Sunday, December 30, 2007



I am God's child (John 1:12)

I am Christ's friend (John 15:15)

I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)

I am bought with a price(1 Cor. 6:19-20)

I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph 1:1)

I am a personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8)

I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt.5:13-14)

I am a member of the body of Christ(1 Cor 12:27)

I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)

I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil.3:20)

I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31-34)

I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor5:17-21)

I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18)

I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph 2: 6)

I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom.8:35-39)

I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor.1:21-22)

I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28)

I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)

I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph 3: 12)

I can do all things through Christ (Ph 4:13)

I know that the work God began in me will be perfected (Ph 1: 5)

I am a branch of the true vine (John 15: 1-5)

I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16).

I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)

I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3)

I have been justified (Romans 5:1)

I am God's co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1).

I am God's workmanship (Eph 2:10)

I have been redeemed and forgiven (Col. 1:14)

I have been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)

"The LORD bless you and keep you;the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Laughter in the face of Reality

As we finish one year and look forward to another, it is good to remember that fun keeps us going. Here are some Inspirational Sayings" I got off the Web Evangelism Bulletin Web Evangelism Bulletin

Top 25 sayings for office inspirational posters

~ Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
~ Doing a job RIGHT the first time gets the job done. Doing the job WRONG fourteen times gives you job security.
~ Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings ... they did it by killing all those who opposed them.
~ We put the "k" in "kwality."
~ A person who smiles in the face of adversity probably has a scapegoat.
~ If at first you don't succeed, try management.
~ Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid altogether.
~ Teamwork means never having to take all the blame yourself.
~ The beatings will continue until morale improves.
~ Hang in there - retirement is only thirty years away!
~ Go the extra mile. It makes your boss look like an incompetent slacker.
~ A snooze button is a poor substitute for no alarm clock at all.
~ Indecision is the key to flexibility.
~ Aim low. Reach your goals. Avoid disappointment.
~ You pretend to work, and we'll pretend to pay you.
~ Work: It isn't just for sleeping anymore.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Great Video

Our good friend Steve Helterbridle put together a neat little video to introduce our focus and mission. It is called, "What If?" and relates the core of our ideas about ministry of the future in Sweeten Life Systems

Take a look at it and let me know what you think of it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Whole Gang @ Christmas

The Sweeten Clan and assorted in-laws gather for Christmas.

There is Hazel, Karen's Mom and sister Toni Lynn in black. Our son Timothy holding Jack Donovan Sweeten; his wife Shelley in pink. Daughter Julia in red and husband David in gray with Jacob and Lily in the center. Karen in green and I at the back in red round out the family.

What a blessing to have health enough and wealth enough with warm homes and great food to come together and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Hazel was born in 1916 and has seen 91 of these celebrations through wars, the flu epidemic, depression, death, moves, poverty and sickness.

We are exceedingly blessed to have a caring, close family of four generations to share hugs and love from year to year. May the Lord bless each of you, my blogging friends, in the New Year ahead.

Follow Up on Scrooge

Go to my Seasoned Believers' blog to get the rest of the Scrooge story and hear how Jesus differed from Ebby.

Monday, December 24, 2007

New Link

Dr. Andrew Jackson, one of the premier bloggers in the Christian blogesphere, has noted the existence of our Seasoned Believers blog.

A tip of the hat to Andy with a big thanks! Go to his blog by clicking the Smart Christians Link on this page. He also has a face book connection for Christian bloggers you may wish to join.

What Difference Does Christmas Make?


Charles Dickens

MARLEY was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change for anything he chose to put his hand to.
Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.

Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don't know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, his sole mourner.

Scrooge never painted out old Marley's name, however. There it yet stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door, -- Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley. He answered to both names. It was all the same to him.

Oh ! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, was Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! External heat and cold had little influence on him. No warmth could warm, no cold could chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to have him. The heaviest rain and snow and hail and sleet could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect, -- they often "came down" handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, "My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?" No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blindmen's dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, "No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!"
But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance.


**This description of Scrooge is the best illustration I have ever seen of a hardened, callous sinner whose heart and mind and spirit are so deadened to human life and nurture that he prefers loneliness and rejection to warm fellowship.

Just imagine for a while the cold, hard, penetrating eyes and the lack of compassion that covered his face like a steel mask. No knight in armor ever had a more forbidding visage than Scrooge. Can any force on earth or heaven change that dead cold heart to one that is alive, warm and caring?

Gifts and My Pet Peeves

For as long as I can remember gift giving with strings attached has been a pet peeve. I can remember so many conversations by family members who said things like, "The gift I gave to Uncle Mort cost me $10.00 and so far I have only spent $7.00 0n Aunt Gert so I have to go out in this blizzard on Christmas Eve and get a $3.00 gift for her.

In all the gifts I have received from parents, relatives and friends it has never occurred to me that my gift cost more than my brothers or less than theirs.

Shopping is agony for some people. They work very hard trying to find the right toy or bauble at the right price. For me, shopping is different. I simply find something they will like, plunk down the money and run home with it.

Maybe the difference is one of males versus females. When my golfing buddies and I eat after a game, more often than not one of us will pay for the total tab or pitch in the total tip. Women, however, labor for an excruciatingly long time over making sure nobody pays a penny more than their bill. This is the same attitude that rules gift giving. As long as females control the gifts it will not change so that means it is a permanent fixture in life.

But, I do enjoy Christmas, especially now that we have grand children. Karen and I love to see the grand kids get gifts that they enjoy regardless of cost. This year Lily, age 5, received several gifts with cute dog themes and she was in seventh heaven. Jack, age 2.7, got some great puzzles and has been putting them together ever since. Jacob, almost 13, received an electronic Wii guitar and was able to really play it well.

Thankfully our family was able to buy these things without going into debt or missing a meal. Thank God for His immeasurable grace and for living in a country where it is possible to live in spiritual freedom and financial ease.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is It OK for Christians to Give Gifts?

The Wall Street Journal published a small article about the history of Christmas yesterday. If you read this blog often you know I like the WSJ. It has some great articles and this one is insightful and stimulates thought.
I prefer Easter to Christmas when it comes to theology. However, the galloping greed we see on display each Christmas is a good way for God to show the world that narcissism never satisfies. This time of year is probably a better time for evangelism than is Easter but both holidays (Holy Days) are centered on miracles.
Easter also fits better with the theme of eradicating sin, guilt, bondage and condemnation.

But at Christmas we have much better music. No, I don't mean the songs about Rudolph, Momma Kissing Santa Claus and having a Blue Christmas, I am referring to Silent Night and all the tunes about angels and stars. Even the radical secularists who fear even showing a poinsettia on government grounds has to hum these old tunes when no one is listening.

I hope the creative class will get busy and ask God to inspire many more great Christmas songs. There may be no better way to touch the hearts of a rapidly declining culture than through the arts, especially music. Several years ago I collaborated with C. Harry Causey to write a song about Communion. (Break the Bread, Serve the Wine) I was inspired by the fact that we have about exhausted that genre of music and encountering the Lord in His Supper is so wonderful.

So I wish you all a Merry Mass of Christ. (Christmas) and a very happy Holy Day!

Friday, December 21, 2007

It is Easy to Miss the Mark

The term sin comes from a Greek word that means to "miss the mark". It was used by archers who were in a contest trying to hit the bull's eye but who did not quite hit the innermost circle. Thus, they had sinned or missed the mark.

Normally when we see the word sin in the Bible it conveys the meaning that a person may be trying hard to hit the bull's eye of perfection but he just can't do it. We can all identify with the Apostle Paul who said in Romans 7 that he was trying to act perfectly but perfection eluded him. "I know what is right," he says, "but I just can't do it".

The Commandment Paul mentions as an example is Coveting. It is brilliant because it comes from the heart. I may be able to fool you into thinking I am not coveting your house, car or bling, but my heart knows better. That is missing the bull's eye.

Sin comes from having a fallen or distorted nature. It oozes out of me at the times I least expect it. I want to be better and do better but my nature fights me. Christianity is not about being better. My works are all filled with self deceit and selfishness. They are filthy rags because they arise from a sinful heart.

Some folks tell us to try harder. But Paul said it would not help. He cried out in anguish, "Who will deliver me from this body of flesh?"

Then he answers himself. "Praise God, through Jesus Christ."

Jesus paid it all

All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow

Monday, December 17, 2007

After Eden, What?

The whole discussion about sin, sins, guilt and false guilt is very confusing. Even among Seasoned Saints on the Yahoo Discussion Group I find the interaction strained and quite difficult to understand. There are several reasons for the confusion but I think one of the most important has to do with a lack of clarity about the terms.

Barney Ford, the Inter Varsity Fellowship Director at UC in the Sixties, was a very capable guy. He used comparisons to help students and faculty to understand the importance of terms. For example, Barney had been a math major before signing on to direct IV and was fond of asking math questions to clarify theological issues.

"How much is 20 plus 20?" he would ask some innocent frosh. "Forty, of course" he would say and smile with pride. Then Barney would ask, "Is that with a base number of ten or a base number of two?" The freshman would gulp and say, "What do you mean?"

Back then few of us knew that computers ran on a base number of two. Everything was a zero or a one. All of us grew up with a base number of ten so twenty plus twenty is forty. None of us knew how to add in a base number of two or seven. (I am still confused.)

Barney's point was deeper than math. He wanted to be careful about the terms we use when discussing our faith. He commonly used a funny way to illustrate this by saying, "We need an MOTM!"

Confused, of course, we had to ask, "What is an MOTM?" He would reply, "A Managing Our Terms Manual"!

Next time I will develop a short MOTM.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What is Sin?

Over the past week a few of us have been interacting on a yahoo discussion group about forgiveness. The interaction actually began when we started to chat about the challenge of living a holy life. That led to some discussion about the nature of sin and whether it is even possible to be sinless.

These are very deep and important issues. So much so that they divide almost every theologian and denomination. After 20 or 30 posts I could see why they are so divisive. It is hard to even difficult to define sin in a way that everyone agrees let alone define how it manifests itself and how to best deal with it.

I grew up in a church going culture and I attended Sunday school, Sunday morning and Sunday evening worship services as well as Wednesday evening services. I heard a lot about sin. I did not understand exactly what it was.

That was probably my fault not the preachers and teachers who were trying to teach me. I thought sin was what I did. If I smoked, drank, played cards or committed adultery I was sinning. But I never understood the issue of the heart and motivations as sin. Not did I understand the difference between sin and guilt. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Do you understand the differences? The first person that challenged me to think about sin differently was President Jimmy Carter. For an interview with Playboy Magazine, President Carter mentioned that lust in his heart was a sin. Just lust alone, without acting on it, was sin. Wow! If so, that changes everything.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Death and Taxes

I regularly send and receive messages from a group of Christians from around the world. The "leader" or "facilitator" of the group is a wonderful and brilliant Pastor from Louisiana named Bob Vincent. Sometimes Bob finds unusual or penetrating articles and issues to send out as "What do you think" pieces. Not long ago Bob posted the following obituary. Let me ask: "What do you think?"

(Just hit the comments link and type away freely.)

R. BRUCE EVANICK is a shareholder with the law firm of Abbott, Simses & Kuchler.

Mr. Evanick completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame in 1971. He received his law degree from Duquesne University School of Law in 1974."Mr. Evanick is a member of the Louisiana (1997), Texas (2002), Mississippi (2004) and Pennsylvania (1971) bars and the Louisiana Bar Association" <

'Robert Bruce Evanick (always known as Bruce to those who loved him - and those who employed him and exploited his work ethic) -- died Tuesday afternoon, December 4th, 2007. A massive heart attack killed him - despite the heroic efforts of many physicians, surgeons and nurses - in a waiting area at Ochsner Hospital.
He was not an inpatient there. He was there to provide company and comfort to Brenda, his wife, whom he loved and supported, in all ways, for 32 years. Her heart is broken. He died a horrendous death, on the floor of the waiting room, at Brenda's feet.

'His death should be a warning to all those who believe that they are being used by insensitive employers. He deserved better, both in life and death. Bruce had been seduced into a sedentary and high stress life style after he moved to New Orleans by the promise of "big money" from a corporate defense law firm. Essentially, his succumbing to that seduction and his devotion to duty caused his death.
Of the many shareholders in the firm for which he labored, only one took the personal initiative to call Brenda to offer her personal condolences.'Bruce's death leaves a huge void in the world. It is truly a sin and a shame that only one of his fellow shareholders were moved to personally console his widow. He loved her to his last breath and would have been deeply saddened by their cold attitude.

Bruce is survived by two siblings from whom he was estranged. The firm will be holding a Memorial Service in their office sometime on Monday, December 10, 2007. It is not known if they would welcome people from outside the firm and the firms prestigious client list. Brenda will not attend. Bruce has been cremated and his remains will be placed in an exquisite wooden box which he loved and will remain with his grieving widow'

Another Letter

Way back in the spring I wrote an article about the dramatic rise in the number and percentage of people suffering from clinical depression. The figures are rather frightening when we look at what is happening.

Well, we received a comment on the blog but I chose not to post it because it would have appeared so long ago that all of my readers would have missed it. So, I will publish it now. Actually, the very reason why they're depressed is because of nutjobs like you thumping the bible as a naive answer to everything. Purpose in life, good; religious pedophiles and other christian nutjobs, very very bad. Anonymous

Obviously, Mr. Ms or Mrs. Anon does not like the positions I take on matters of faith. This leads him to say some very harsh but confusing things about me, the Bible and what he/she calls, "Christian pedophiles".

I welcome this person to my blog and hope he/she reads my response because I am mystified as to what was offensive on that post. Perhaps it is my belief that salvation and knowledge of the Bible serves as a source of joy and resilience for many people. Knowing Christ is no guarantee of happiness but the data show that it certainly helps.

Be assured, dear anonymous reader, that Jesus died so you can have eternal life. Ask Him today to come into your life and give you the peace that passes all understanding.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Letter from A Friend

Every once in a while we get letters and comments from old friends who want to tell the world about the value of our ministries. The following comments come from a wonderful educator whose cutting edge work in the urban jungle has given generations of children a new hope for a meaningful life.

It has been both my pleasure and benefit to have known Dr. Gary Sweeten and his progressive work for well over twenty years. At the time when he initiated the Teleios Ministry, it was the first I had experienced of the blend of Biblical truths applied to psychological healing. It gave zoe life, hope, and meaning to the church, providing real answers to real problems.

Through Dr. Sweeten’s teaching workshops and seminars, pastors and church leaders were equipped to understand spiritual growth and interpersonal relationships within their congregations, as well as bringing structure to their churches. Equally as important, pastors and their spouses have been offered a place to openly discuss personal issues within a safe and confidential environment, a resource rarely available to clergy, yet sorely needed.

Although a forerunner in this type of ministry, Dr. Sweeten has continued to expand professionally. He and his ministry have joined the purpose of Christ “to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives…to set at liberty them that are bruised” -–from local neighborhoods to the nations.

--Carol B. Dantley, M.Ed.
Christ Emmanuel Christian Fellowship/Academy

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hi Tech Needs Something More

We live in a highly technological world. I am in contact with people all around the world through email, telephone and TV. Before long we will have a way to talk with our people via a video link. That is amazing.

My mother in law, Hazel, was born in 1916. She is presently 91 years of age. She has survived many wars, pestilence called the Flu Epidemic of 1918, poverty and the Great Depression and saw the growth of technology beyond anything we could imagine.

Hazel lives near us now and it is a delight to have her. We have long talks and lots of laughs. We love to play pinochle and she is my partner. Technology cannot replace Hazel's laugh or her stories. She is unique.

That is why we need people. We need to touch and be touched.

Technology alone leaves us that way: ALONE! Remember this dictum:

Hi Tech needs Hi Touch.

Because radio, TV and the Internet have grown so much people are starving for human contact. People need to relate deeply without taking advantage of others. I call it, "Non-Possessive Touch".

We need quiet places where we can talk and most importantly, listen.

This is one reason that missionaries on the ground are essential to authentic outreach. God is personal. he came down as a man and was incarnated. Thank God He showed us the best way to live together.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

TV And World Ministry

Our ministry is small in comparison to many of the big, rich TV preachers. They take in hundreds of millions of dollars each year and spend most of it to buy air time so they can broadcast to more people.

I have always been mystified about why so few of these groups put missionaries on the ground in Africa, Asia and Russia. Their intake of funds is greater than the entire budgets of many Evangelical denominations even though the denominations all support seminaries, Bible schools, missionaries and church plants.

We established a separate 501 c 3 not for profit in 1978 at the suggestion of our elders and financial advisers at College Hill Church. The materials we had written on healing and Christian care were greatly in demand and our seminars were taking off here and other places. I asked our elders what they wanted us to do with the copyrights and income from those activities and they said, "Set up a non-profit separate from the church".

That not-for profit has divided and sub divided into ministries all over the earth. Because we adopted a core values of, "Freely you have received so freely give" we gave the rights and income to the people in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia and Asia.

We do not know how many people have been healed, delivered and equipped for ministry through those organizations. The song, "Thank you for giving to the Lord" says what we believe. We serve God His way. (I am not complaining about our material situation. We are blessed.)

Our treasures lie in the thousands of individuals and families that have received God's touch over the past several decades. We estimate that over 200,000 people have gone through our classes and been blessed by the people we taught. I do not know if that is correct or not. I do know that men and women on every continent are still being blessed by the little ministry we started in Cincinnati.

Here is the lesson. If a Believer does what the Holy Spirit says, the results will glorify God and not the ministers. The score card will be full of healed and delivered people in heaven not millions in the bank. How do you think God keeps score? By counting the number of Rolls Royce cars or by the people who received the touch of the Master's hand?

If you want to support world mission, tithe and then donate to people you know.
Sweeten Life Systems
P.O. Box 498455
cincinnati, Ohio 45249

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christ is Born

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it "Christmas" and went to church; the Jews called it "Hanukkah" and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Hanukkah!" or (to the atheists), "Look out for the wall!" - Dave Barry

Greed and Avarice in Christian Work

The fact that several large TV programs by famous preachers are the focus of Senator Charles Grassley is well known by most of us. I do not know the details of the organizations in question but it does not take a CPA or tax expert to see what is happening. All we need to do is turn on the TV or read some of their materials.

When men and women in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ preach about the importance of wealth and live in obvious opulence, it throws a shadow of doubt on all of our ministries. It is natural to look at TV preachers and wonder if they are honest in their dealings. Such doubts raise questions in everyone about non profit charities, including this one. So, when the Slick Willies of the world end up living in $20,000,000.00 mansions, our ministry is also suspect as well.

Most people do not have the time or expertise to understand how some TV preachers can brag about driving a Rolls Royce. To us, "Ministry in a "non profit" means we live simply and carefully not with slick manipulation and excessive lifestyles. Lush private jets and $3,000.00 suits do not communicate humility and devotion to Jesus.

But that is not all. A few weeks ago, a friend was telling me how much impact the TV preachers were having overseas. I finally told him the truth. TV preachers do not get much "bang for the buck".

The amount of money they spend per successful contact is very small. In other words, the preaches may brag about their international influence but I have personally been overseas and these guys are not effective as evangelists or preachers. And, their theology is so aberrant that what they teach actually harms more people than it helps.

If you want to support overseas evangelism and missions, give to groups with real, live people on the ground. People not TV sets make disciples. World Vision has influence; YWAM has influence; and, many others have influence. Ask your pastor.

TV preachers rarely impact people positively.

When I minister in Russia I have to spend hours and hours picking up the pieces from the mistakes, cultural gaffes and terrible theology of some famous western preachers. It is less so now because the famous people have moved on to more financially fruitful fields but a few of us are still ministering deeply to the broken hearted and are setting the captives free.
In a 1994 trip, the local leaders wanted to know how much money I was making off of these "Crusades". (TBN brings in some $200 million dollars annually.) When they discovered I had no TV program they were amazed. "Doesn't every American have a TV program?"

After hours of careful and intensive interviews they invited me to teach in their churches and seminaries. I was the first American to be so treated in St. Petersburg.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Allure of Tyranny

Communists Demand a Return to the Old Ways

Russians voted away their freedoms, and Venezuelans almost did. Why? BY BRET STEPHENS Tuesday, December 4, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

OpinionJournal []

"It is ultimately a cruel misunderstanding of youth to believe it will find its heart's desire in freedom," says Leo Naphta, the great character of Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain" "Its deepest desire is to obey." On Sunday, voters as far apart as Caracas and Vladivostok took to the polls and put Naphta's theory to a practical test.

In Russia, the result of parliamentary elections was a triumph for President Vladimir Putin: His party, United Russia, won 64% of the vote. Add that to the votes taken by the Kremlin's allies and the Putin tally reaches 80%, with the principal "democratic" opposition represented (at 11.5%) by the Communists. The vote sets up Mr. Putin, an exceptionally fit 55, to rule Russia for another four-year term, and perhaps several terms beyond that.

By happy contrast, Hugo Chávez's effort to establish himself as Venezuela's president-for-life via a constitutional referendum seems to have failed by a narrow margin. Even so, an astonishing 49% of voters were prepared, according to the official count, to permanently forgo the opportunity to choose a president other than Mr. Chávez.

Surely you now know why we pray for Russian Christians and do everything we can to take the good news to the good people of Russia?

Without a great deal of healing, Russia will never develop into a democracy of safety for the masses.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Reactive People Need Healing

Apostles Reacted to Children and Jesus Responded

Over the past forty years or so that I have been a counselor and counselor educator I have worked with thousands of people. Almost without exception the most dysfunctional people are Reactive and get into trouble because they cannot Respond objectively to the ways others live and think. Or, maybe it is more accurate to say, they cannot Respond objectively to what they THINK others mean when they speak.

Our media's language is filled with emotionally loaded terms and barely rational ways of seeing the world. For example, reporters often say, "I feel like the President is.........." when they really mean, "I perceive that the President means...."

We also say such irrational things as, "You make me feel so badly!"

In American we even have such irrational things as, "Hate crimes."
We could argue that most crimes agains others is based on hate rather than love.

Most of my clients give other people an awful lot of power over their feelings and behavior. But thankfully, some of our people are learning to take responsibility for themselves and not blame others. Thankfully, we have been able to train thousands of Christians how to remain calm in the midst of the storms of life.

A young man started to Junior High this year and was accosted verbally by many of the other boys. When he related the story he smiled and asked, "I am bigger than all of them and think it is funny when they try to act so mean."

This kid is refusing to React and choosing to Respond. Bullies and manipulators always try to suck us into feeling badly. A wise person keeps calm and peaceful and will not React. This is what Jesus meant when he said, "Turn the other cheek." With this one small sentence Jesus told us how to remain calm and Respond not React to a bully.

Next time maybe I will tell you how Chad Johnson of the Bengals made the Cleveland Brown Bully Group look weak and useless.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Reactivity Scale

When I read about the folks in The Sudan who want to kill a Middle Aged woman from England because she allowed some of her students to name a teddy bear Mohamed, I can think of little else other than "Reactivity". When we are dealing with people who are reactive it is easy to spot. For example, they are extremely serious. A sense of humor is not allowed, especially on subjects they take seriously.

Second, their emotional reaction is far greater than the offense. If I tell a joke about Hillary and they are big fans of hers, the reaction will be one of serious umbrage at my "attack". Then, a great effort to convince me that Hillary is more holy than Mother Teresa.
Third, God wants to give them His peace.

We family therapists have had some training in the subject of Reactivity. There is a a scale to determine whether one is Peacefully Responsive or Anxiously Reactive. I use Zero indicate Perfect Peace. Ten is used to indicate high Anxiety.

When Jesus was before Pilate and was threatened by him, He remained peaceful and refused to React to the threats of such a very powerful man. He was a Zero.

But Peter, one of the, big guys who follwed Jesus was Reactive. When the cops came to arrest Jesus, Peter was about an eight or nine on the Reactivity Scale and cut the ear off one of them. Jesus calmly put it back on the guard.

Not all Muslims are as Reactive as those in Sudan. I worked with and had a lot of fun with many Muslims in Singapore. Most were Peaceful and Responsive rather than Anxious and Reactive. I even trained them how to set up Divorce Recovery Groups and Mentoring Models for school kids. They were attentive and caring students.

But here is the point for us. Are you and I Reactive or Responsive when someone "pushes our button" on some topic? Hamida, the Muslim lady with whom I worked, told Karen that she was unable to find a Christian who would listen to her ideas. They all wanted to "preach to her". If our preaching is from personal defensiveness rather than love, it will not be very effective.

When Bill Clinton was President many of my friends Reactive whenever his name came up. Why did they allow that to evoke such anxiety? Now, some of my friends are Reactive to George W. Why do they allow his name to bother them?

Reactivity indicates that we need to grow in an area. It is God's Yellow Caution Light warning us that we have lost our peace. Like the bumper stickers from the Seventies, "Support Peace or I will Kill You."

Facebook Forced to Change

Do you ever wonder if your voice is heard when you have complaints? Well, a story today on the BBC website shows that when we band together we can make a difference. The complaints of regular people caused Facebook to stop using their private information.
Facebook is a very powerful brand and we the people stopped them dead in their tracks.

One of the reasons I have a blog is to be a force for positive change in the world. This is especially important when bid media are so busy attacking my values and beliefs. For example, a new book outlines the ways Nickelodeon has intentionally tried to teach kids to undermine parental authority. (See Kids Rule, by Sarah Banet-Weiser)

This is also why it is important to teach Christians how to wisely use their influence by blogging, writing letters to the editors and commenting on blogs. Take a look at this news story.

Facebook members have forced the social networking site to change the way a controversial ad system worked. More than 50,000 Facebook users signed a petition calling on the company to alter or abandon its Beacon advertising technology.

When Facebook users shopped online, Beacon told friends and businesses what they looked at or bought. Many considered the data sharing to be an intrusion that exposed them to more scrutiny than was comfortable.

Privacy please

In response to the demands, Facebook's 55 million members will have more control over whether data about what they do online is used for Beacon.

Before the changes, Beacon was an "opt out" system and many complained that they missed the chance to avoid using it when it was introduced in early November. Now Beacon will be an "opt in" system that only tracks data if explicit permission is granted to Facebook to do so.

So, the people won this battle. But it is not the last so get involved wisely.