Sunday, March 30, 2008

Healing Power of Forgiveness

There was a great program on CSPAN Today about Forgiveness. Sally Quinn was the moderator and the panel consisted of Martin,Doblmeier, Filmmaker
Thomas Moore, Author, Kenneth Briggs, Author

It was a Forum on The Power of Forgiveness sponsored by the Fetzer Institute Washington, District of Columbia (United States) ID: 202144 - 03/12/2008 - 1:55 - $29.95 View in Video Library

Kenneth Briggs talked about his book The Power of Forgiveness, published by Fortress Press. The book examines the idea of forgiveness in overcoming personal, national, and international struggles.

The book includes interviews with Elie Wiesel, Sister Helen Prejean, and others and contributions from other writers. It is based on a documentary film by Martin Doblmeier. Mr. Briggs was joined in a panel discussion at this event at the National Press Club to launch the book. It is part of the Fetzer Institute Campaign for Love and Forgiveness

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jeremiah Wright and Liberation Theology

Easter is all about liberation. The biblical theology of liberation is a focus on bad people receiving forgiveness and a new start. Unfortunately, left wing liberals have changed the meaning completely.

Jeremiah Wright preaches , division, racial distrust and bitterness along with refusal to forgive. As a result, he is considered to be a scholar among the liberals.

While agonizing on the cross Jesus asked God to forgive the people who betrayed him. They did not deserve it or earn it. They did not even ask for it. Despite all the barriers Jesus asked God to forgive them.

I can understand as a human being why Dr. Wright would hold a grudge but I cannot understand why a minister of the good news would preach such a distorted message. Some say it is because he is a "Prophet". In my view, a Prophet's message is a call to righteousness, peace and forgiveness. Wright's message is the opposite and it has set back racial relationships 100 years.
Wright is wrong! His message is an unbiblical cal to bitterness and vengeance. Thankfully, we Evangelicals are preaching peace and love to all people, even Rev. Wrong.

So, here is the real prophetic message. Love one another as God in Christ has loved you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

hearing God

For the readers who come to this blog regularly I suggest that you also try my Seasoned Believer Blog. I am writing on "hearing God" at this time.


Gary Sweeten

Forgiveness and Healing

Is it possible for us to be healed of our mental, emotional and physical ailments and still hang on to bitterness and unforgiveness?

As a therapist I say "NO!"
As a Christian Minister I say, "NO, NO, NO!"

Muslim fanatics are models of what happens when there is no forgiveness and no mercy or grace.

Unforgiveness or bitterness means that I harbor a desire for revenge. I want the person who harmed me to suffer. That is natural and normal but Jesus died so we could live super-natural and above normal lives.

Forgiveness does not mean we must immediately feel differently about the harm done to us. Hurt feelings are different from harboring vengeful ideas and doing vengeful acts. Our emotional feelings can catch up with the spiritual act of forgiving. Forgiveness is an act of the will. It is a decision. Feelings follow decisions not the other way around.

Gary Sweeten
Sweeten Life Systems
A 501c3 non profit charity

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Peace with All

It is a great time to listen to the rants of Jeremiah Write and James Cone. Their bitterness and rage at Whites and the American government is deep within them and they have obviously missed the message of Easter. Easter celebrates forgiveness and peace as opposed to anger, bitterness and anxiety.

I seriously doubt that any of my readers will let these two "Ministers of the good news" know that I am offering them release and the way of forgiveness. But it is not my purpose to share the good news to them but to others who might have missed the liberating message of new life and new joy by listening to hate mongers like the two men mentioned above.

As Hebrews 12 says, "Be at peace with all and the sanctification without which we cannot experience God. Beware lest any of you miss the message of grace and allow a root of toxic bitterness grow up and defile many generations."

Those who grew up hating African Americans, White people, Japanese, Germans or the Hatfields and McCoys need to hear that release and healing is possible this Easter. Peace is possible if we take the gift of God's grace and allow the Spirit to free us.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us how to forgive and live in peace. Today is the day of salvation. I wish the James Cone, one of the creators of what is wrongly called, "Black Liberation Theology" would follow King instead of Marx and preach peace instead of war.

It is not easy to forgive but it is possible and it will heal what ails us. I was deeply wounded by friends not long ago and it took some time for me to let go of the bitterness. I was finally able to do so through the Holy Spirit and now I can pray the Lord's Prayer with freedom. PTL!

Gary Sweeten
Sweeten Life Systems

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Black Liberation Theology by James Cone

Obama's Pastor follows Cone in theology. Read what they believe.

Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community. . . .

Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love. James Cone

Cone believes that God is to be made in the image of man.
I believe that man has been created in the image of God.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Not For Profits

He Re Fired!
Do you wonder why many business and educational executives are switching careers to get involved in non-profit-charities? Or, do you wonder which is easier to lead? I have the answers.

First, I left a career as a university administrator to do ministry. I have a Master's Degree in Higher Education and a Doctorate in Counseling. Yet, I was drawn by the Lord to use my training and skills to lead a church and other charitable organizations.

Like many executives, however, I am always on the lookout for business opportunities to make money and help people get work. In 1989 we established a Professional Counseling Clinic and In Patient Psychiatric Hospital. It was a ministry and a a professional career. In 1994, after heart problems surfaced, I retired to go back to ministry.

I can tell you for certain that leading non-profits is harder than heading a profit organization. Here are more stories from executives who decided they needed to use their talents and training to help charities. Many find it a real challenge.

Testimonies from The Chronicle of Philanthropy

While charities often try to lure executives from the business world, some former corporate executives are finding themselves drawn to nonprofit work — though there are some bumps along the way, reports The Financial Times.
Connie Duckworth, a retired advisory director at Goldman Sachs, founded Arzu Rugs, a nonprofit group that helps Afghan women sell the rugs they weave, after a visit to Afghanistan.
Kelly Fiore, who worked for Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs, left the business world and created Charity Folks, an online marketplace that auctions items and events donated by public figures; though it is a business, 80 percent of donations go to charity, the newspaper reports.

“I loved the intellectual challenge, and both organizations were phenomenal to work for from a career-development standpoint,” Ms. Fiore says. “But I started wondering what I was doing every day and what effect I was having on the world.”

Business people who make the transition to nonprofit work face several hurdles: the lack of technology and other support, lower pay, and cultural differences between business and charity, for example. But executives can also contribute their business skills to nonprofit management.

John Wood, who left Microsoft to start Room to Read, a group that supports literacy and education in several countries, says: “I tell our team that we want to run Room to Read with the compassion of Mother Teresa but the focus and tenacity of a blue-chip company.”


Because the USA is growing retired Executives and Retired Workers faster than we are growing Kudzu, it is important that most folk not Retire but Re fire!

Before you build that over sized mansion on the 18Th hole, think about networking with other Seasoned Believers to find ministry opportunities and stay alive spiritually, emotionally and physically. People who work and volunteer live longer, happier and healthier lives. What is so bad about that???
Contact Sweeten Life Systems
P.O. Box 498455
Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

Who's in Charge Here?

During the Presidential race a citizen would assume that the President is in charge of the economic health of the nation. If you listen to the radio. watch TV or read the papers you know what I mean.

The Democrats are uniformly complaining about Bush and what he has done to ruin our economy. They moan and groan about how good it was under Clinton and how bad is has been under Bush. Now they are promising to bring back prosperity as soon as they pull the Federal Government away from the bad man Bush.

But go back to Economy 101 and Political Theory 001 to examine the facts. Neither Clinton or Bush has much effect on the economy. That Branch of the Government is not powerless but almost powerless to do anything about whether the economy is strong or weak.

The federal Reserve has some influence as does Congress but not the President. Sure, a President can lead cheers and suggest ideas but the major levers of the economy are in the hands of others. So, despite what the Democrats say, there have been 55 straight months of record setting economic growth under Bush. So, should Bush get the credit? Nope. Some, for pushing tax cuts, I suppose, but not much. The Congress cuts taxes not the President.
Now we are in a bad economic slump. Is it the fault of Bush? Nope, he did not cause banks to lend money to people who cannot pay their mortgages. Greedy banks and other lenders took too many chances but Bush was not a banker.
Our unemployment is still very low, even in Ohio. Is Mr. Bush the man who did that? Nope. So, be sensible and vote for your favorite. Just don't expect miracles.

I have a favorite in the election but if he/she wins our problems will not disappear. There will be radicals and terrorists and economic greed and bad guys until Jesus returns. However, He is not running for office.

Send your tax deductible donations to a place that helps folks live better lives:
Sweeten Life Systems
P.O. Box 498455
Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Other Blog

I am going to post my ideas and insights about Easter and what it means to Abide in Christ on

We just finished a wonderful half day retreat on hearing God and the participants are being urged to click there to catch up.

Economics and Health Care


"No matter who wins the Democratic presidential nomination, that candidate will have a significantly different prescription for the nation's health-care system than Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee. Which is a good thing, since that means the country is in for a debate involving real substance.

...[T]he Democrats are more interested in universal coverage, while the Republicans focus on cost containment. Those may be the points of emphasis, but McCain wants expanded access, too, while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton claim they can rein in health-care costs.

One thing we've learned from state-based experiments in universal coverage: It's not cheap. In Massachusetts, taxpayer subsidies for its two-year-old program of mandated coverage will rise from $158 million in 2007 to $600 million this year and $870 million in 2009.

Lawmakers are now scrambling to impose new cost controls. On the menu: lower payments to doctors, hospitals and drug companies. Meantime, a similar plan proposed in California died in January when the independent Legislative Analyst projected the program would cost at least $4 billion more in its first five years than proponents first suggested.

By contrast, McCain's agenda would primarily expand choices for consumers. Among other things, he would allow Americans to purchase health coverage from a licensed insurer in any state; individuals could shop nationwide for an appropriate policy and compare prices. He would also allow membership organizations (like AARP) or other non-employers to sell group policies. Most dramatically, he would end the tax deduction that employers receive for providing health insurance; instead, individuals would receive tax credits they could use to either purchase policies or invest in Health Savings Accounts. They would no longer depend on their employers for medical coverage. Taken in combination, these proposals would give individuals more control of their health-care options."

Rocky Mountain News

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Cost of Health Care

The President of Lily Pharmaceutical Company in Indianapolis, Sidney Taurel, recently spoke at the Wharton School. Here is part of what he said.

Health care costs are growing at an unsustainable rate, with an aging population as the driving force, according to Taurel. "Already, there are more people in Europe who are over 40 than are under 40," while the median age in Europe is predicted to reach 50 by the year 2040.

Meanwhile, lower birth rates in the developed world have caused an inversion of the age pyramid, with too few younger, working people to help pay for the medical services being used by a growing older population. As the median age rises, so does the price of health care. "Indeed, turning the pyramid upside down wrecks the traditional model of health care payment," Taurel said, adding that Medicare faces an unfunded liability of $30 trillion over the next few decades.

Why are the Presidential Candidates refusing to discuss this?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Democrat or Republican? Which One Cares?

Marc Freedman was a guest columnist for the Washington Post in January and he wrote a great article about the very, very severe problems facing our nation. Ron Tate of The Boomer Wave (Click Link on left of this blog) and I have both written extensively about the huge wave of men and women approaching retirement.

One of the biggest challenges is what do Retirees do with themselves to keep life meaningful, interesting and worthwhile? People are living so much longer that if they retire from paid labor at 65 they still have, on average, 20 more years to live. Most people, and especially Boomers, do not want to sit and rock or take bus rides to Branson every month on the Senior Express.

I consider this to be one of the most critical tasks facing our nation and Western Europe. Over the past 100 years we have radically expanded the "Leisure time" we have to fill and when people retire they are facing a bleak future of bring alternatives.

Join this with the need to make money, Social Security, is bankrupt, and people will be scrambling to get paid jobs and our businesses and non-profits are unprepared for making it happen. Not too long ago we needed more people to leave the workplace through early retirement and golden parachutes. However, now we need people to work much longer and not retire at 65 or even 70.

I urge you to read Mr. Freedman's story in the Washington Post.
No Country for Old People?
It's a tough time for seniors these days, and getting tougher as the economy slumps. How can we enrich Americans' later years?

Ask Obama, Clinton and McCain what they will do to face these threats.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Reports keep coming in from around the world about how people's lives are being changed through our ministry over the years. Here are two letters from a Counselor Trainer of missionaries with Youth With A Mission's University of the Nations. YWAM is one of the largest and most creative missionary organizations in the world.

The letters have been edited to protect the writer's privacy and to replace certain "inside counseling terms" with words familiar with the general audience.

Hi Gary,

I am sure you don't remember me, but I worked in the Counseling Clinic in 1988 at YWAM's University of the Nations in Kona, Hawaii

Your workshops...transformed the way I went about counseling. I used (your methods) to do my own workshops... It was always astounding how well they worked. I am still with YWAM, but my wife and I started a base in _____ two years ago. I taught my staff (your materials) today— it was the first time in 19 years, but it was still effective. (How can) I ... obtain a copy of the first Apples book?

For the Kingdom,

Jim _____

Jim, you can find all my books on

Thank you Gary,

I (ordered your Listening Book) and I have it in my possession. It was a nice addition to have your picture on the back cover. I have not done any... training in years, but I plan to start doing seminars.

I don't think you ever got any feedback (from me before) Gary. I actually dumped all my notes and completely changed my style of counseling at the U of N clinic using your ... techniques. It transformed my work!

In fact, the (processes) were quite embarrassing when I did them in workshops, because people would share at a level of intimacy that was so deep. So I don't know who else you touched (at YWAM University) but it transformed my work.

In His Peace,


It is nice to hear from Missionaries who took our training over twenty years ago. Our approach has been to partner with churches and mission organizations and train them in care, counsel, healing and family life. The Lord made it clear that we were not to do all the work ourselves but "Equip the locals to minister to others".

This model has worked showing again that the methods of Jesus are always the most effective. In Matthew 28 Jesus told His disciples to go an make disciples of all nations and that is exactly what we do. We do not make converts but train converts how to reproduce.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The People of Great Faith

This morning as I read the Bible I was struck quite strongly by a passage that had escaped me before. This is on reason that the Bible in new every morning. The Holy Spirit is guaranteed to bring new things to our heart every time we read it.

faith. They truly believed in Jesus words or they would not have prepared for it so well.

Another verse says, "The devil believes in Jesus and trembles." These characters believed in Jesus and they trembled. Just like the devil, the enemies of God tried to thwart the plan of God by stopping Jesus from rising again.

Look at the preparation. They took a pair of Roman guards to stand watch and make sure none of the Disciples stole the body. Second, they set an official seal on the big stone so it could not be moved by human force.

The enemy always goes too far. He thinks that human powers will defeat the supernatural. In this instance, as in others, God's plan, God's power and God's purposes cannot be defeated by the flesh.

How many of us are still trying to "seal off" the Power and Plan of God? I have often been a bit embarrassed to admit that I believe in healing, supernatural invasions by God and the gifts of the Spirit. It was as if I wanted to humanly control God. Putting God in a cave with a rock and a seal will no more deter His plans than those Roman guards.

This Easter why not ask God to roll away the stone for you and take the seal off the cave so the Holy Spirit can give you His Resurrection Power? This Saturday we are having a day of Seeking God's Voice. I am excited to know that God will show up.

Gary Sweeten
Sweeten Life Systems
A lifetime of great relationships.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


My friend Judy Haag sent me the following facts about Easter and how it is scheduled. I found it fascinating. 2008 Easter Facts
As you may know, Easter is always the first Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 20). The dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify Passover. This is why Easter moves around on our Roman calendar.

Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22) but that is rare, very rare. In fact, even celebrating Easter on March 23 is rare and here is why.

March 23 is the earliest any of us will ever see Easter, unless we live as long as Methuselah. In fact, only the eldest of our population have ever seen it this early. Congratulations to those who are 95 years or more because Easter this early came way back then. The last time it was this early was 1913.

The rest of us have never and will not ever see it come any earlier. The next time Easter will arrive on March 23 will be in 2228. Do you plan on living another 220 years?

The next time it falls on March 22, is in 2285 and that is 277 years from now. Be sure to eat your veggies if you want to be around then. The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. A person born before that would be almost 200 now.

So, Easter is connected to Passover just as Christianity is connected to Judaism. Our roots are Jewish and we have been "Grafted into the olive tree". Each time we celebrate Easter and the Resurrection we are also celebrating the Pass Over of death to life.

Easter is coming. Celebrate life! Celebrate Jesus!

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Influence of Jesus and the Church

There is a buzz in business circles today that can be traced directly to the story of the Good Samaritan and the other teachings of Jesus. The buzz is called by names such as "Corporate Social Responsibility", "Going Green", "giving Back", "Pay it Forward", etc. It is the pressure for businesses to take "Corporate Responsibility to be Good Citizens". See the web on Social Responsibility at:

In some ways, business is learning from non-profits and churches who have touted caring, sharing and bearing burdens for generations. Currently that message is being adopted by many in the for profit world and it is having a big impact on good works around the world.

Bill and Malinda Gates are taking the message to heart by giving billions to a foundation as are Nike and Warren Buffet. So much money is having an effect but it can also be a hassle for how is it best invested? Charity can be good or bad for the recipients and the people who we are trying to help. I am currently reading, "When Charity Drives out Dignity" by Glenn J. Schwartz, a missions executive who sees the good, the bad and the ugly of missionary help.

Schwartz cites several examples of good intentions that have gone awry and actually hurt the people they wanted to help. He also lists several the kinds of works that are good. If you are interested in helping the poor and downtrodden as well as those who don't know Christ, read the book.

I was very happy to see that the work we do to partner with local leaders has his strong approval. He also likes ministries such as Sweeten Life Systems because we do the leadership training necessary to keep local groups strong.

So, whether you are a foundation, a responsible business or a ministry, consider supporting our focus on leadership development around the world.

Gary Sweeten
Sweeten Life Systems

Thursday, March 06, 2008

What Am I Worth?

March 05, 2008 Quote of the Day

"I think it is more satisfactory to live richly than die rich."
Sir Thomas Browne

The erudite English doctor Sir Thomas Browne, who wrote a number of books on science and religion, was known for his baroque prose style and his controversial opinions. He was born in 1605 in London and settled in Norwich to practice medicine.

He wrote a famous book, Religio Medici (The Religion of a Physician), an intellectual autobiography, in 1635. A friend published it in 1642 without his permission, embarrassing him, but the book's popularity encouraged him to write more. He died in 1682.
Another British Believer's story:
Years ago, in London, Sir Moses Montefiore, the well known industrialist and philanthropist, was meeting with the British Queen over tea. In a very “un-British” manner, the Queen asked, “So tell me, Sir Moses, what are you worth?” He replied, “My dear Queen, please allow me to go through my records and I will present you the information in a week.”

So they met again for tea and Sir Moses presented the Queen with an accounting of his “Worth”. To which the Queen commented, “Sir Moses, this is truly a very large amount, but I personally know that your holdings in a particular project are worth more than this.”

Sir Moses smiled and said, “My dear Queen, you are mistakenly comparing how much money I have vs. How Much I Am Worth. The money I have, God gave to me, and it can be taken away at any time. It is not truly mine.

The amount I gave you on the paper is what I have given away to help others – to build hospitals and support orphanages, to help my brothers and sisters the world over. This is what I am worth, as it can never be taken away from me. []

Think richly about God and neighbor and grow in kindness, joy and peace. The world is waiting for us to get our thinking right.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Education for Evangelicals

Education is Essential

Are we emphasizing education enough? The Pew Research Studies show that Evangelicals are not as well educated as members of other groups

The photo above is from one of my visits to Singapore when I trained top students at the Singapore Management University. Asian nations are growing in every possible economic, relational and spiritual way. Why and how? One word explains a lot: EDUCATION.

How are we who believe in God doing as educators? Not so well. The Pew Research reveals how we stack up against other religious groups. The religious groups are listed in order of the percentage of members with College and Graduate Degrees. First are members of the Mainline churches like Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran, followed closely by Mormons.

Then we see Roman Catholics and finally Evangelicals who just barely beat Black Denominations. This does not bode well since the traditional groups have been held back by decades of low opportunity.
Members of Mainline Protestant Churches
College 20%
Grad School 14%
College 18%
Grad School 10%
College 16%
Grad School 10%
Members of Evangelical Protestant Churches
College 13%
Grad School 7%
Members of Historically Black Protestant Churches
College 11%
Grad School 5%

Evangelicals are doing better than in the past when we were reared in anti-intellectual churches. However, we have a long way to go. One way to advance is by setting up scholarships for Evangelical students.

My brothers and I have done that with Rend Lake College in our home town of Ina, Illinois. We donated a small amount to sponsor outstanding students who want to enter a helping career. It is a Federal Government Matching Grant Program with a scholarship in the name of our parents. Two local Pastors are advisers to the fund. If every Evangelical did the same we would have a great impact on succeeding generations.

Sweeten Life Systems has established a Mini-grant Fund for the ministry in Russia. Write me if you can contribute.

Making a Difference

Support Sweeten Life Systems

Much of our ministry is offering pro bono (Free) services to people in need. That help is behind the scenes, quiet, professional and effective.

Where else can a Pastor in trouble go for confidential assistance?
Who do you know that has the experience and training to support a minister's family through a crisis in his marriage or parenting?
Are there any safe places in your area that walks leaders through the pain of adultery or the devastation of the death in the family?

We do everything we can to teach leaders and churches how to prevent a crisis. I am the first to admit that prevention sometimes fails and a crisis intervention is necessary.

A donation to Sweeten Life Systems will help us continue the work of both prevention and crisis intervention. Thanks for your prayers.

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

A 501c3 not for profit tax deductible charity

Religious America

Last month I posted a brief article about the Pew Forum's extensive research on Religion in America.

To the complete shock and surprise of Europe America is a very active Christian nation. We do religion in the USA the same way we do business and politics; we are capitalists.

In Europe there has been a state church arrangement since the Dark Ages. Maybe that is one reason things were so dark. When there is no competition fstandards fall. Competion for our money, our business or our souls is good. The organizations and people responsible for running those non competitive groups become less in touch with the "customers" or members and the quality of their services is lowered.

Competition is good for lowering prices and raising the quality of the product in every endeavor of life. People vote with their pocket books for goods and services and with their feet and hearts when it comes to eternal issues.

One reason I am so strongly opposed to nationalized health insurances comes from this same philosophy. Where there is no competition standards fall. In America the Federal bureaucracy is a nightmare to deal with. The state church has always been a nightmare to deal with. They are removed from the people and decide for the people not with the people.

In a more democratic and competitive arena churches must continually reinvent themselves and meet the needs of the people. In a democracy people flock to those tgroups that have high standards and high demands. It is the opposite of what one might assume.

The Pew Research says that some 44% of adults in America are in a different place spiritually than their parents. Many Catholics have switched to new groups and a very high percent of Mainline Denominations are bleeding badly as they lower standards and the new Evangelical groups raise them.

So, the fretting and wringing of hands by conservative Believers is premature. Americans are doing in religious life exactly what they are in the rest of life: looking for the best for themselves and their kids.

Gary Sweeten

We help churches grow

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Hope, Springs Eternal

From the Wall Street Hournal, Best of the Web

We got a kick out of this letter to the editor of the Journal Times of Racine, Wis. (third letter):

I agree with Kim Morrison that Barack Obama would be a great president. I have hope that he can provide free health insurance for everyone.
I have hope that he can bring our soldiers home and make the world a safer place. I have hope that he can protect Americans from poverty by printing more money at the mints.

And, I have hope that he can make me a taller, more attractive, wealthier person, immune to all illnesses. The best part is that all of these will be accomplished at absolutely no cost to me.

Some skeptics would say that he can't do these things because he hasn't had enough leadership experience, foreign policy experience, or government experience. Some would say that Obama can't provide for all our needs without doubling taxes. And, some would say that he hasn't provided one piece of a specific plan to reach these goals.

Well, to those people I ask, "Where is your hope?"

All these years I've been creating accomplishments and gatherine [sic] experience to list on my resume. From now on, I'll just list my hopes and plans.

All that work was so unnecessary.

Angie Smucker

Hate and Punishment Rarely Attract Converts

The headline is: Violence Leaves Young Iraqis Doubting Clerics and the story goes on to relate how many young men and women in Iraq have turned against the Muslim radicals who have resorted to terrible forms of punishment to "Motivate" the population. Is this the only way they know to promote Islam? As the Bible says, "Legalism and punishment do not stop sin" even for the Muslims.

The Religious Police, similar to the Politically Correct Police in America, stalk around Bagdad to catch Law breakers who are smoking, drinking or wearing long hair. Men with long hair would have it forcebly cut and stuffed down their throats. Smoker would have their fingers broken or cut off. Any woman caught without a head covering or with a "short" skirt would be severely whipped. As a result, most people have turned against the clerics and against Islam.

In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.

“I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us,” said Sara, a high school student in Basra. “Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don’t deserve to be rulers.”

Atheer, a 19-year-old from a poor, heavily Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, said: “The religion men are liars. Young people don’t believe them. Guys my age are not interested in religion anymore.”

I hope many believers will begin to, pray for these men and women. It is reported that about 1/3 of all who turn to Christ from Islam do so as a result of dreams, visions and a direct experience with Jesus. It appears that many are becoming more and more receptive to the Gospel of Love. Prayer changes things. By the way, we shall discuss hearing God at our March 15 Prayer Time.

Gary Sweeten
Sweeten Life Systems: A lifetime of great relationships.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Only Imagine

One of John Lennon's most famous songs was about vision and imagination. He was a dreamer!
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

"Imagine there is no heaven and no hell..." it goes. "No countries, no possessions and no greed." John Lennon was worth millions but he wanted us to imagine that we needed nothing. That is not such a bad thing for singers but I expect more from the people running for President.

They are, unfortunately, too much like Lennon and dreaming great dreams by living only for today with no thought for tomorrow. With multiplied millions in the bank John Lennon did not need to plan ahead. Senators with a lifetime of perks think we can all live like they do.

I watched the last debate and would replace "no heaven, hell or countries and no possessions or greed with" with "no budgets and bankruptcy". Their foreign policy seemed right out of Lennon's song book and their financial planning a dream without reality.

Just imagine you and your family sat down in the sun room of your fifteen room McMansion costing $750,000.00 and had the following conversation.

Dad, "Mom and I wanted to let the whole family know that we have over spent our budget by $50,000.00 this year and the bank is foreclosing. They will take the house next week. On my $40,000.00 annual salary we just cannot afford this House, four cars, a houseboat and vacations in Asia every year."

The kids look at each other and Junior says, "But I have promised my family that you would build them a new swimming pool this year." Jill pipes up and proclaims, "Every family deserves a wellness center along with the pool! promised my kids a workout room next to the sauna and pool. It will have exercise machines, weights and a personal trainer."
Grandma chimes in, "And I need a massage daily to keep me fit. Now that grandpa is getting free Viagra I need my exercise, vitamins and a personal trainer. You may say I'm a dreamer but I am not the only one. The whole family is now dreaming so come on let's have some fun! "

Dad, "Didn't you understand what I said, son? We're broke. Broke! We can't pay the bills now. How can we add a pool and workout center? Will you be able to pay for it?"

Junior, "Dad, we can't pay for it. My trips to the gambling boats and Disney cruises are taking my money. Besides, I'm not paying for things I have a right to free. Let's tax the rich guys who own the companies."

Dad, "But we own the companies. It is our stocks and bonds that control all the public companies. How can our companies pay for all this?"

"Dad, that is dumb. Just borrow more money."
Medicare and Medicaid are broke. Uncle Sam keeps telling us we are broke. The Dollar is dropping and we are facing a real fiscal crisis. But some candidates are still promising new rooms and new pools.

Reality should never intrude on imagination when Lennon or Politicians are singing.

Gary Sweeten
Put your hard earned money to work making a difference. Support Sweeten Life Systems.