Wednesday, December 30, 2009

TV Writers Attack Christians at Christmas


The TV show, NCIS is very popular and it has a lot of people tuning in to see how the stars outwit terrorists, thugs and the dark underworld. Each week a new episode tries to draw us into the plot and, like the old Perry Mason series, turn our minds inside out with the surprise ending.


The recent episodes tried to fool us on one of the holiest days of the year for Christians by a bait and switch scheme. Here is how they did it. The most probable villains were switched with the least likely to be villains. That story line, along with a very heavy dose of Political Correctness, shows conservative Christians killing Muslims with suicide bombs for reasons that are regularly promoted by Islamic radicals but never seen in the entire 2000 year history of Christianity.


Here is my question: Did the writers do this as an act of:


1. Supreme ignorance. (They are unaware that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and 90 million adults in America follow Christ.)

2. Supreme intentional hatred. (The writers are so full of rage they will do anything to show Christians in a bad light.)

3. Supremely bad writing. (The writers ran out of real villains and thought that this script would go over big in Hollywood.)

4. Supreme fawning over Muslims. (the writers want to get Muslims to finance their new projects.)

5. Other? Why do you think the writers would do such a thing?




Hope at Christmas


This letter by my very good friend Maurie Loomans, appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer recently on the YOUR VOICE column. Maurie Loomans of White Oak is a retired medical research scientist and Elder who writes as a deep thinker about God's world. He was born in 1933, the year of President’s Roosevelt’s first inaugural address.

White House, churches should inspire hope

As Christmas approaches, the holiday does not make it better for those who are facing unemployment for the first time. It is a fearful time. For instance: Will I be able to keep my house? How can I have health insurance? Will my child be able to go to college?


However, this scenario is not the only time this country has faced this problem. Consider what it was like in the time we call the Great Depression. In his first inaugural address in March of 1933, President Roosevelt said:


This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.


Seventy six years later we face a similar situation. In my judgment, fear has reached pandemic proportions in 2009. So far I have heard nothing from The White House that neither alleviates fear nor provides reasonable hope. The question is whether the message of Christmas is pertinent to this problem. I believe it does.


The biblical story found in Luke as said to the shepherds is, “But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Then a multitude of angels came and said, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."


And later Jesus in His ministry says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” When put together, it appears that God’s peace is an antidote for fear.


President Roosevelt goes on to say: “More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.”


My hope is that the current administration will take realistic actions that will create good jobs and that churches across this country will help people turn fear into peace.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Danes Place Obama Higher than Jesus


Here we go again. A Danish newspaper has printed a story that attempts to make Mr. Obama a contemporary Saint and Jesus a very common man. Will it work to cause Believers to rise up and protest? Will it work to get atheists and their friends stand up and shout because they think they have won the battle? Probably, but does it matter?
These kinds of things matter little to real spiritual life. It will not change when, and how many people find eternal life in Jesus Christ. Back in the Seventies when sex, drugs and rock music were rampant, many preachers practically mad ea living by preaching against all three plus beards and lack of bra's. But we saw the greatest revival in history fall from heaven despite the earthly appearances of widespread evil. Maybe we pray harder in hard times.

It is easy to think that God acts on what He reads in the papers and sees on TV. When a confessing Christian becomes President we all cheer and sing the National Anthem as though God was finally going to run the rascals out of Washington, D.C. But, it did not happen that way when George W. was in the Oval Office.

Today is the day of salvation. No need to wait for a better day. There has never been a better time to preach the good news, teach God's word and witness to God's love. We are in the days of great harvest. I know that the prophets of doom will disagree because they are often caught up in news headlines not God's headlights.

There are most Christians alive today than ever before. There are most Spirit filled Seasoned Believers who know God's word and have maturity and experience in leading than in all history. I wish I could live another 100 years.
I am not a Baptist, at least not formally, but I like the Baptist sign above. (My Baptist Church gave me the "left foot of fellowship" way back in 1969. I was too innovative back then too.) I am still an entrepreneur who wants to see new, exciting and cutting edge ideas prevail in the Kingdom of God. Why should Procter and Gamble have all the creativity?
Let's face it. Most churches and most of its leaders are stuck in a village church mentality that leads them to desire to be the best church in the first Reformation. They are still trying to be Luther and Calvin instead of God's leader in the current Reformation.
The model is that of professional football: 22 exhausted professional men who desperately need rest entertaining 20,000 non professional men who desperately need exercise.

See my web page sweetenlife.com for more exciting ideas about Christian growth and influence.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christianity and Faith in American at Christmas


A few super sensitive, left wing Atheists are complaining that any display of an angel, a tree with ornaments or the nativity scene assaults them and makes them feel deep emotional pain. As a therapist with several degrees in counseling, psychology and interpersonal communication I want badly to communicate love and acceptance to all persons and especially non Christians. However, it does seem that such claims by Atheists are a bit far fetched and meant to provoke Christians.


On the other hand, some who profess to be Christian are, outraged and offended themselves. The right wing politicians especially are vocal about their inner pain and some people suggest that such public attacks by non believers will destroy Christianity. It might be good to see how Christians are faring in America to see if martyrdom is a common occurrence in our churches. According to The Rasmussen Report, Christians are not feeling very assaulted. Or, if they are, they just keep on following Jesus to church. The following are from their news report on Christmas Day 2009.


1. Forty-four percent (44%) of America’s adults attend Christian church services at least twice a month, and 92% of these regular churchgoers believe the God of the Bible is the one true God.

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that another six percent (6%) of adults attend church about once a month, 17% attend occasionally, and seven percent (7%) profess a religious belief other than Christianity.


2. As Christmas approaches, 18% of regular churchgoers read the Bible daily, 32% read Scripture several times a week, and 20% about once a week. However, 26% say they rarely or never read the Bible. Thirty-seven percent (37%) reflect on the meaning of Scripture in their lives on a daily basis.


Forty-nine percent (49%) pray to seek guidance on a daily basis and 43% pray to confess sins daily. Just seven percent (7%) say they don’t pray for guidance at all in a typical week, and 13% don’t pray to confess sins.


3. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say that, over the course of the past month, they have had a meaningful discussion about their faith with a non-Christian.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of regular churchgoers consider themselves to be born-again Christians. This figure includes 91% of Evangelical Christians, 63% of other Protestants and 25% of Catholics.

Among those who are not “born-again,” 37% say someone in their church has talked with them about accepting Christ as their Savior over the past month.


To my mind, these statistics sound very promising and encouraging. Even the Rasmussen data on the ages of church goers is positive. But, we males are lagging behind the females. Why are we harder for God to grab? Or, are Christian leaders missing the mark when it comes to attracting males?


4. Fifty-six percent (56%) of regular churchgoers are women, 44% men. Women tend to attend more, volunteer more, pray more and read the Bible more than men.

Forty-one percent (41%) of regular churchgoers are under 40 years old, 38% are between 40 and 65, while 22% are 65 or older.



Thursday, December 24, 2009

MARLEY'S GHOST




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. No one wanted to be near Scrooge.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


The fellowships who follow Christ that we call churches are called to be the opposite of Scrooge. In Ephesians 5:22 ff we read that the fruit that grows from the seeds planted by the Holy Spirit are-Love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, gentleness, meekness and so forth.


But, his nephew and family lived out their poverty stricken lives with joy, love and good cheer. What a contrast. The wealth of Scrooge did not bring him joy and certainly did not endear him to others. But sick little boy, Tiny Tim, although crippled physically was a giant in the Spirit.


How do we do this? By being filled with the Holy Spirit and stirring up that Spirit to grow as much fruit as possible. Who will you be like this Christmas? Scrooge or Tiny Tim?

Stright Talk About Atheists

A Pagan With Nazi Tatoos
Over the last few weeks there has been some dust ups over signs placed in public places as well as government buildings over whether God exists or not. Atheists in Illinois have placed a very aggressive sign in the state capitol that attacks Nativity scenes, the birth of Jesus and the idea that God is real.


I am happy the atheists are finally coming out of the closet. They have been a hidden resource for far too long and used their influence through the shadow organizations to attack historic traditions of the USA through lawsuits, legal maneuverings and left wing judges. Now they are admitting their anti God and anti Christ and anti religious biases. Only when we flush out the real beliefs and ideas behind such groups can we get a true picture of who we are dealing with.


I have no doubt that Christianity will fare well in the public square of ideas if we get a chance to engage atheists honestly. As long as their aggressively promote their ideas as though they are from The US Constitution it is difficult to have a fair hearing. However, now they will need to be honest and open about their religious biases.


The atheist lobby has recently attacked Christianity, and all religious traditions, by suggestion that faith in God and organized religions have been and are responsible for most wars, oppressions and evil in the world. With the advent of radical Islam, the Crusades and other evil examples it is hard to debate their conclusions. However, when we and they must both stand in the full light of history and debate facts, the ideas of Judeo Christian thought are bright lights of liberty, justice and progression compared to pagan, Druid and atheist thought and behavior.


So, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us live daily with the truth that God sent His Son into the world to rid it of all sin, sickness and psychopathology. We Christians have often failed to live out the legacy of love and truth but all in all God's rule and reign are growing whoever the gospel has been preached. Without Judeo Christian thought we could not even judge a behavior such as war, rape, abuse and murder are good or bad. Even an atheist cannot argue for a position of superior morality and ethic without resorting to the Bible either overtly or covertly.


Worship God in Spirit and truth this week and celebrate the fact that when atheists take a stand we can better witness to God's love, power and healing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sin and Cold Weather Deaths


I have been posting on the topic of sin. I trust you will remember that my definition of "SIN" or the "Fallen Nature" includes all the traumatic issues that occur in nature. The tsunami a few years ago was the result of an earthquake that reminded us of just how fragile and broken "Mother Earth" really is. In my thought, this is evidence of the Fall. As scripture says, "Thorns and thistles cover the ground". When sin entered the earth the perfect, peaceful and life giving earth was changed into a place of trauma, death and destruction.

Here is the latest evidence.

In Ukraine 27 people have frozen to death since the thermometer dropped last week. Authorities in Romania said 11 people had succumbed to the chill, and in the Czech Republic the toll was 12.

In Russia and Ukraine and other Eastern European countries alcoholism is rampant. The ministry of our friends there does everything possible to take the gospel of Christ and His healing love to those nations and those people. Only the gospel widely preached and practiced will set them free from addictions.


Many of these deaths are the result of drunkenness. Sober people rarely fall into the cold snows and die from exposure. The people there were deeply wounded by Socialism and alcohol is a way to dull the pain. Pray for Liferoute.com and the team of courageous Christian's who are raisin g up an army of love, truth and power.


Jesus came to rid the world of sin. His birth reminds us that we can live free and enjoy His healing in our daily lives. Why live as though Jesus never came to earth to set us free? Accept your freedom and your place in the kingdom of God.


Jesus heals the broken hearted and sets the captives free."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sin and MuslimTerrorists


On September 10, 2001 there was a special television program about "The Lost Boys of Sudan". Young men from families slaughtered by the Muslim dictators had come to the USA through Catholic Charities. They marveled that they could live here in peace, security and safety.


Although they were placed in Minnesota where the weather was very cold, they boys stated how much they loved the USA. One boy told about the time he went down to the river to get water. While bending over to dip the water an alligator jumped out and grabbed his little brother, eating him with a few short gulps. The young man said, "Life in my country was short, brutal and unpredictable, but here it is safe."

The next day, was September 11, 2001. I wonder how those same boys were feeling after the attacks by Muslim terrorists. That day US seemed about as unpredictable as the rest of the world. The contrast between the two cultures seemed to be less striking.


It is not, of course, for we still live in amazing peace and prosperity. Yet, the realization that safety is not guaranteed by our constitution has shaken all of us. Now we are anxiously start to look for answers to eternal questions.

This, in fact, may be the most fertile ground to witness about Christ. Americans are ready to listen to information about God during a crisis. Over the past few years our nation has changed in its attitude toward problems. We have moved away from taking sin, sickness, disease, disaster and accidents for granted. At one time we thanked God for good gifts. Blessings were seen as abnormal and pain was an everyday occurrence. Now we assume that all sicknesses and diseases will be healed, poverty erased and pain eliminated.

Historically, people knew that evil was real, sickness and death were constant companions and we hoped for heaven. That reality has changed. OSHA, community health groups and media imply that any accident, sickness and disease is an aberration. Media now that broadcast every anthrax death as though it were the bubonic plague. Now we take peace, prosperity, safety, health and long-life for the norm. Sickness, accidents or terrorist attacks are inconsistent with the world as we want it. A 99% record of success is seen as failure.


Firestone


Only in America would we put a company like Firestone out of business for failing once in 20 million products. We believe in a perfect world created by OSHA and spoiled by greed rather than one created by God and spoiled by the fall and sin. I am happy that OSHA and other government groups exist but I did not expect them to usher in the new millennium. I do not look for lions to rest with lambs any time soon. The terrorist attacks woke us to the fact that evil exists; now we are trying to understand how it affects us.

I am no scholar 911 memorial that he could not find an explanation for evil. For over 30 years I have been thinking about evil and sin as they apply to psychopathology and psychotherapy. I am a pastor/therapist interested in God’s gifts of healing. I have to deal with the reality of evil in the lives of people every day. Widows, mothers of fatherless children, parents of psychotic kids and abused wives seek me out in a constant stream of pain that will not allow me to deny the reality of evil. I have good friends whose cancer brought despair and death. Some were spiritual giants while others laughed at God yet both groups were sick unto death. How do we explain that?

The issue before us is a challenge, but perhaps we can look at it with wisdom and some beginning understanding. We might call it, with apologies to Tina Turner, “What’s Sin Got To Do With It?” Several years ago, a book by Dr. Menninger named, What Ever Happened to Sin? hit the market. In it he addressed the confusion between sin and psychopathology. I will address similar issues but broaden the discussion to include fallen nature in general.

As a pre-test to this topic, let me ask some questions. Which of the following statements makes the most sense to you? The reason we were attacked @ 911 is


1. Our nation’s sin. We deserved it. “God would have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah if He did not judge America in this way.”
2. The attackers are evil people, rotten to the core. They were just living out their sinful natures and violent religion.
3. The terrorists were gaining honor for Islam and its people. We need to understand how they feel about the Crusades and their fall from world influence and leadership.
4. They chose to do wrong.
5. All of the above in some combination.
6. There is no real evil. All good and bad are in the head.
7. I do not know. Only God knows for sure.
8. It is a combination of all these things

The answer to such a question tells us something about the way or ways we see sin, sins, evil and “why bad things happen to good people.”


Are Muslims simply worse sinners than folks from a Christian background? Is evil only happening among Muslims and atheists? Is evil real?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiger, Media and the Big Ten Commandments


As you watch TV, read the papers and hear the comments made by pundits, think about which of the Big Ten they support and which they deride.

Here are all of the Commandments. Because some faith traditions choose different parts to emphasize there are actually more than ten commandments. Here are all 12 possibilities.

1. I am the Lord your God-
2. You shall have no other gods before me
3. You shall not make for yourself an idol
4. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God
5. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
6. Honor your father and mother
7. You shall not murder
8. You shall not commit adultery
9. You shall not steal
10. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
11. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife
12. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor

Read and reflect on these commands. Are some rejected by the public square and others promoted? Number 12 in this list says that God dislikes and rejects coveting. However, wanting what my neighbor has is actually one of the core values of "The American Dream".

And, idolatry is so popular that a TV show is called, "American idol".

Think about it. What would Christmas be without coveting, idolatry and dishonoring the sabbath? I know, I know. It is a lot of food for thought but I am on a diet!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tiger Woods and the Big Ten


Almost every day when I watch TV I see advertisements that encourage me to violate the Ten Commandments. I rarely watch shows such as 2 1/2 men and Desperate Housewives but I can't miss their ads. I am sure Tiger watches some TV. In fact, he is on TV and a lot of the talk on TV encourages us to join them in violating the Big Ten Commandments.


I saw today that Accenture has cut its ties with Tiger as has Pepsi. They regularly beg us to forget the Big Ten and let our lusts rule. So why are they so tough on Tiger now? What is he doing that most TV, Newspapers and Radio programs don't do continually?


Tiger is simply a man of his era. It is an era that promotes greed, idolatry, free sex, parental disrespect and many gods. In fact, anyone that would say that there is only One God just as the Big Ten says, are ridiculed, mocked and harassed. So, when Tiger is very successful at greed, is he made into a semi god but when he violates one about sex he is vilified?



Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Crisis in America


Jesus Calms The Storm
I must admit that I am very sad and even somewhat depressed. The way Obama and the Democrats are tearing America apart is unprecedented. I normally do not get down but see things in God's perspective but reading that the Dem's are going to pass the health care take over left me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.


But it is more than that. The EPA has declared CO2 to be a dangerous gas and are dedicated to bullying, bludgeoning anyone who breathes to be a danger to the planet.


The bullying is one of the things about Obama that really concerns me. The Left is mean, cold blooded and hard hearted when it comes to disagreements. The have no commitment to freedom of speech or freedom of conscience. All Christian hospitals will be forced to do abortions. All Christian charities will be forced to hire sexual deviants.


The leftist obsession with sexual deviancy and abortion are oppressive. They will bully people into compliance. I saw it in the mainline denominations and we can see it in judicial rulings now. In Scandinavia the left insists that homosexuals be hired on every church staff. The insist that all kinds of extremely dysfunctional sexual obsessions be funded by tax dollars and will persecute Christians who disagree.


Read this article about Massachusetts if you do not believe me.


I do not know what to do but pray. I urge my readers to pray. But, as Romans 8 says, "We do not know how to pray as we ought..."


Lord, teach us to pray.

Monday, December 07, 2009

How to Help Christian Sinners


Wait!


Stop!


Cut that out!


How can I write such an outlandish headline? What does it mean? Either a person is a Christian and holy or a sinner and not a Christian. Those two things are mutually exclusive.


Really?


I came to the Lord at age ten so I have been ruminating on this issue for a very long time. I grew up in an environment where I thought that being a Christian meant that I was supposed to be perfect just like God was perfect. I thought I knew what perfect meant when I read it in the King James Bible so I tried hard to be a perfectionist. I failed; and failed; and failed; and gave up.


Once I gave up I pretended to be a sinner who did not care anything about God, church or the Bible. I was at war with myself and with God's ways. Failure at perfection made me into a failure at life. Then, one night in June of 1958 I was headed to Benton, Illinois to pick up my gambling, smoking, drinking carousing friends and go to a bar in West City. This was a town of ten bars and fifty houses where underage kids could carouse without police intervention. I loved West City because I could put on a "bad boy persona" and no one would know I was from a Christian home.


I had left Ina, population 300 or so, early so I could miss the Preacher Brother Boatright and the Evangelist who was holding a revival in our Church. After work at Dowzer Electric Company in Mt. Vernon I hurried out of town in a 1957 Ford Fairlane. But I did not get far because even a new Ford can't outrun God's Spirit.


The County Line Road is two miles south of Ina and I sped pretty fast toward that demarcation point between Jefferson and Franklin Counties in a big hurry to escape the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit. A little over one mile from Ina I had a strange experience. I can still remember that I was passing the Burma Shave signs that dotted the right side of Highway 37. The dash lights on that Ford Fairlane brightened and a strange cloud filled the car. Then I heard it: "Gary! Choose this day who you will serve."


The voice in my head was not loud but certainly strong. Not shrill but with a sense of finality. I knew it was God speaking. I had only one choice. When a boy is reared in the Holiness Movement he knows that we never say "No" to God. I said, "Yes."

Actually I did more than that. I replied: "You Lord. Only you have the words of Life."

The lights dimmed and a sense of perfect peace filled the car. My life was changed forever. But I was still not 100% perfect and without sins, faults and stumbles. But I still had peace and knew who I was in Christ.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are born less than perfect with areas of Bondage, Rebellion, Guilt and Shame. Thankfully, God provided His only Son to take care of all four of those core issues.

Bondage: Dead: God Regenerated me and I was Born Again to new life as a Child of God
Rebellion: My way is best: God Converted me and turned my heart toward Him

True Moral Guilt: Deserve Justice: God Justified me and Forgave that Guilt

Shame: Loss of Identity and Inheritance: God Adopted me as an Eldest Son with His Family Identity and eternal Inheritance

After I was Reborn, Converted, Justified and Adopted I stumbled, made errors in judgment and sinned. But I am still in His family.
"Nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus." RO 8:39
My kids and grand kids have my name and my inheritance. They will always be mine no matter what they do. They are imperfect and struggle in immature ways. I expect children to be imperfect but to grow in maturity, just as I did.
It is kind of crazy to believe that any person can be without sin, rebellion, guilt and feelings of shame. God provided a way for us to confess our sins and pray for each other so we would be healed. James 5:16
If we never had any rebellion or bondage or guilt why did God tell us how to deal with it?
How do we deal with Christian sinners?
Expect everyone to fail, sin and have guilt
Provide safe places for all persons to come for confession and forgiveness
Tell stories about falling, confession, repentance, and healing
Ask God what He wants to teach us each time we fall
Come to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace in our time of need



Saturday, December 05, 2009

What Must Change?


The biggest challenge for Christians is not sharing the gospel so others can come to faith in Christ. That seems awfully clear. One must recognize that Christ died for our sins and ask God to apply the sacrifice to us. Everyone must come to salvation through Christ.


It is not necessary to know any theology or Bible in order to receive Christ. The Holy Spirit does the work. When I was young I thought getting people saved was my responsibility. I was very concerned about the style, the words and the environment. Then I heard testimonies from people who were deeply touched by the sovereign work of God and came to faith in Christ as a result. They were converted without much if any urging from people. It occurred to me that God does the work of salvation but He sometime allows me to be a witness and midwife.


But as I became a preacher, teacher and Christian Helper I saw that the remnants of the Fallen Nature continued to haunt all Believers. This meant that I needed to know how to help myself as well as others apply the most appropriate biblical remedy to their places of fleshly challenge.

In the last post I mentioned how much I learned from Dr. James Kallas whose model included three aspects of fallen nature. Bondage, Rebellion and Guilt. If that is true, then Christ's sacrifice must have been applied to all three of these horrible problems. Before a doctor can apply a remedy for a disease he/she must first diagnose the exact nature of the problem. A muscle strain is not treated like a broken bone even if both cause leg pain.


Bondage is treated differently from Rebellion and both are treated differently from Guilt.


Bondage means we are dead in trespasses and sins. We did not CHOOSE to be sick sinners but we are. Dead men tell no tales and make no big changes in their lives. Only a power greater than the Bondage can bring change.


Rebellion means we CHOOSE to act disobediently. The themes song is, "I'll do it my way". It is ego, self focused and narcissistic.


True Moral Guilt is not a feeling. It is a forensic fact that when we trespass of the law we are guilty whether we "feel" guilty or not.


So, when Christ came to earth and agreed to redeem us from our fallen natures, he had to take care of all three of these issues. If Christ had made us alive in a New Birth but had not taken care of our True Moral Guilt we would still be in trouble with God. Guilt requires Just Punishment and Jesus took care of the Justice we deserved through Justification or Forgiveness.

And, if had Jesus not also taken care of our Rebellion and turned us around from our obsessive path toward destruction, we would be in trouble. We would continue to be pursuing behavior that rebels against God. But Christ also Converted us and turned us around when He also Justified us and gave us new life through the New Birth. All three problems were solved.


Christ's life, death, burial and resurrection offers a New Birth, Justification and Conversion. He covered all three of the main issues remaining from then Fall. Praise His Name!
Now what? Is that all? I used to think so. But I was troubled. Everyone I met had deep problems from a lack of personal Identity. That went along with a lack of understanding their spiritual Inheritance. Most of us are deeply damaged. What is that called? I read, studied and prayed and came to a biblical conclusion. There was a fourth dimension of the Fallen Nature. I discovered that the Bible called it SHAME.


SHAME! What is that? In the Bible Shame is shown to be theologically, spiritually and emotionally different from Guilt. True Moral Guilt has to do with Justice with condemnation or Punishment. Shame has to do with a loss of Identity and Inheritance. The result is deep emotional scars and relational conflicts.


Adam and Eve were born free of sickness, sin and guilt. They also had a secure sense of who they were as their Identity as God's chosen people was made extremely clear. They had a conscious notion of their Inheritance.


But in Genesis 3 we see that sickness, death, rebellion, guilt and shame resulted from their decision to disobey God. The Hebrew word for shame is bwash and it means "to have a loss of face". Now what is the remedy for Shame?





New Post about Tiger

Go to my other blog for information about Tiger and Elin. Who is guilty?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Basic Theology of Salvation and Sanctification


Why is there so much confusion about practical Christianity among Believers? In fact, even many Pastors are confused about how people are saved and how they can be sanctified. I hear it every day and I see it in many Clergy. I must be frank and admit that I was as confused or more confused than most by this question. I grew up among people who loved a good argument about theological issues. Well, we loved a good argument anyway.

It was not until I met a Lutheran Theologian from Thousand Oaks, California that I found a system that allowed me to put a lot of theological loose ends together. The man's name was Dr. James Kallas. He was a theological lecturer on a cruise ship loaded with Christians coasting from port to port from Holland to Germany to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and the USSR. In every place Dr. Kallas taught about how its culture, society, legal system and social structure had been influenced by a particular theological stream of thought.

When I heard his system I was immediately struck by how well it described the various people who came to counselors and pastors for help with personal problems. Dr. Kallas' system was broken into three streams or emphases based on how they perceived fallen nature. Some people, and thus nations see "sin" and personal problems as Rebellion that must be stopped by laws and constraints.

Others see problems as proof that they are Guilty and must be punished. Finally, some countries see bad behavior as the result of brokenness or sickness that cannot be altered by punishment or by passing new laws but people who just need to be medicated, taught or healed.

These three basic problems, so said Kallas, could be summarized as Rebellion, Guilt and Bondage. His teachings opened my eyes to the different ways people conceive of their problems. If I, as a Minister/Counselor, perceived their problem differently it goes without saying that my advise would be unwelcome, unheeded and ineffective.

That cruise was designed to be a Study Leave for me. I had signed up to accompany and learn from a famous pastor and writer. I did follow him and listen to his lectures but the real reason God had me on that boat was to meet Dr. Kallas.

Next time? More ways to understand and bring the good news to people and nations.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Put Christ in Christmas

I intentionally say, "Merry Christmas" to people and I also try to remember to emphasize the fact that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world not just a time to promote retail sales. I recently heard a reporter say that in past years many retailers were changing from promoting a "Merry Christmas" by saying "Happy Holidays" but that has changed with the economic downturn.

This shows us that economic realities put Christians in the driver's seat on this issue. And, according to the polls, we are in the majority.

Amidst all the holiday shopping craziness, most Americans at this time of year want to see holiday signs that wish them a "Merry Christmas." A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 72% of adults prefer "Merry Christmas," while 22% like "Happy Holidays" instead.

Marketers would be crazy to insult Christians and those of us who like the traditions of our childhood. Some 72% of us want to stay with the traditional greetings. So, let us all make sure we remember the focus of Christmas and keep our greetings warm, loving and Christ centered.

It might not be a bad idea to remind the current resident of the White House that his constituency wants us to have a Christmas Tree not a Holiday Tree.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation


Thanksgiving Proclamation

George Washington

City of New York, October 3, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th. day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where have all the Terrorists Gone?

Frank Goig, is a man I met when he was a Chaplain at Ground Zero. I was there ministering to the First Responders. Frank sent me a very interesting email. I must admit that the contents of the email shocked me.

It included a link to an Internet site that contains a report on the National Security Team that advised the President Obama as to what he needed to do after the Inauguration. The Internet site is run by George Washington University, one of the best schools in America.

I will let you read the report without my guidance or editorial input, but go to page 29, Appendix C and read the names of the members of the task force. Look carefully and see if you notice any names that have been in the news recently. Then write me a note and tell me what you think when you find the name of a man who was advising the new President and his team how to deal with terrorism.

Some days I think I am being a bit paranoid but others it seems as though I am not suspicious enough. Of course my many visits to the former USSR have taught me that authoritarian leaders will stoop to any and all kinds of evil.

Gary Sweeten

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Marriage for Thanksgiving


Today is November 21, 2009 and it is 48 years after Karen Judy Mayer and I said, "I do!" Karen and I had known each other for a few months when we decided to marry. It is popular for counselors and "experts" to insist that people date for a long time and really get to know each other before tying the knot. In fact, some even suggest that living together for a year or so before marriage will really cement things. The research data indicates otherwise. People who live together "without benefit of clergy" are most likely to divorce and more likely to find that they are really incompatible.

Karen and I were incompatible but we have lived together very successfully for 48 years. I am a man and she is a woman. That alone sets up enough incompatibilities to make divorce certain if other factors were not also available. Add to the male/female thing our differences in Temperament, (I am an ENTP and she is an ISFP), our family backgrounds, (She was reared by a single mother with one sister and I have two brothers and no sisters). But we had a very important commonality: Christ and Christian values.

Karen and I were married on the Thanksgiving holiday because I was a teacher. So, we always celebrate our anniversary with great thanks to God. Today we were able to be with daughter Julia's kids, Jacob 14 and Lily 7. It was a blast. And, HH Gregg delivered a new refrigerator to the lower level of our house as my anniversary present. (This allows our son Tim and family to come home for special occasions and stay with us. In other words, family makes it all worthwhile.

Karen and I also had a tendency to laugh a lot and have lot of fun. This and a deep attraction to each other overcame a lot of differences. Vivie Le difference!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Islamic Terror Knocks on our Door








I have been a therapist involved in the healing ministry for several decades. During that time I have seen thousands of men and women whose mental states were a mixture of angry, depressed, bitter and despairing and some whose behavior was often compulsive, hopeless, hurtful and self defeating. In the case of Nidal Hasan, whom I never saw in therapy but whose mindset was familiar, the mental state was a mixture of fantasy and extreme bitterness.

Hr. Hasan was following in the footsteps of other terrorists who have flown airplanes into buildings full of workers, blown themselves and others up in marketplaces and homes and mosques, led suicide attacks on hotels and churches and acted in other seemingly inexplicable ways. But is it a mystery why these men do such things? Not according to the Bible, God's book of psychology and behavior.

Read this prophetic passage in Hebrews 12: 12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

In the passage above the writer encourages the sick and feeble to prepare for healing. In many instances people with problems and pain need to work at getting better. Mr. Hasan did the opposite. He diligently pursued illness of mind and soul.

14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Verses 14 and 15 tell us exactly what will cause murder: self pity, unforgiveness, hatred and bitterness. Mr. Hasan had evidently rehearsed his perceptions of US mistreatment of fellow Muslims and it drove him to madness and murder. It literally did what was predicted in Hebrews by causing a bitter root and that causes trouble and defiled many families.

What else can drive so many Muslims to murder thousands of innocent men, women and children? Anyone who ruminates over and over on being a supposed victim will develop a deep suspicion or even paranoia about the people who have, in his fantasy, victimized him. Mr. Hasan was paranoid and complained often and loudly about how the American Army, of which he was a well paid officer, was persecuting Islam and Islamic countries.

The people who suffered as a result were men and women standing unarmed and helpless in a line at an Army base in Texas. Let his mental, emotional and moral derangement be a warning to all of us that the Bible is right when it comes to the main causes of violence: a root of bitterness from a refusal to forgive past wrongs by offering others mercy and grace.

By grace we are saved, healed and delivered not by works lest anyone should boast.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hasan and The Afterlife

According to ABC News, the terrorist Nidal Hasan was ready to die.

United States Army Major Nidal Hasan told a radical cleric considered by authorities to be an al-Qaeda recruiter, "I can't wait to join you" in the afterlife, according to an American official with top secret access to 18 e-mails exchanged between Hasan and the cleric, Anwar al Awlaki, over a six month period between Dec. 2008 and June 2009.

Other messages include questions, the official with access to the e-mails said, that include when is jihad appropriate, and whether it is permissible if there are innocents killed in a suicide attack.

"Hasan told Awlaki he couldn't wait to join him in the discussions they would having over non-alcoholic wine in the afterlife," the official said.

Cable TeleVision's Top Jocks

Whos is the most popular TV shows on cable? You might be surprised. I was but here are the data from the Drudge Report.

FOXNEWS HANNITY/PALIN 4,200,000: More than MSNBC & CNN
FOXNEWS O'REILLY 3,868,000
FOXNEWS BECK 2,512,000
FOXNEWS GRETA 2,383,000
FOXNEWS BAIER 2,235,000
FOXNEWS SHEP 1,980,000
_______________________
FOXNEWS TOTAL 18,000,000--WOW!!
_______________________
MSNBC OLBERMANN 1,041,000
CNNHN GRACE 1,036,000
MSNBC MADDOW 957,000
CNN KING 835,000
MSNBC HARDBALL 625,000
CNN COOPER 611,000

Who do you watch? who does President Obama watch?

How is Obama Doing

I just wrote a post on my Seasoned Believers blog about Obama's talk in China. Take a look and see what you think.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Growing up in Christ

I am writing again on my other blog. It has my thoughts on being a Seasoned Believer with maturity, talents and gifts that God will use to change the world.

Many of my friends are Seasoned Believers with no place to unleash their ministry skills. The world is dying for a lack of Christian service and many churches are dying for want of ministry. At the same time there are multiplied millions of well off, mature believers with enormous personal experience and business acumen who are wanting to find meaningful places to help people.

What is the hold up?

Who is to blame?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Jesus Movement


What difference does it make that we are in the midst of The Fourth Great Awakening? Well, it makes a big difference. Every world wide revival brings major changes. Revivals have babies called Awakenings where spirit filled believers grow up and change society. This means that everything we have grown used to in church life is changing before our eyes.

Here is the problem, most Bible schools, seminaries, books and media are still operating on the old paradigm.

Pastors, Professors and Church Leaders are stuck in an outmoded, old fashioned and failing approach to life and ministry. Starting in the rebellious Sixties and continuing in the Seventies, Christianity made some radical shifts in focus, practice and process. The anti-authoritarian mood of students, radicals, Viet Nam protesters and young believers turned everything upside down. The result was dramatic, especially in college campuses.

Campus ministries shared the good news of Christ with millions of students and many came to faith in Christ. Inter varsity Christian Fellowship, the oldest of all the groups, increased its focus on college Campuses and their annual missionary gathering at Urbana grew to over 20,000 in attendance. The world is a different place because of IV and their emphasis upon missions. And, the IV students took their new ideas overseas.

The radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)drew about two hundred students at their conference. That paled in comparison to Urbana but received all the publicity from a media interested in promoting politics.

Bill Bright's Campus Crusade for Christ recruited thousands of staff and started aggressive evangelism programs on hundreds of campuses all over the USA. Their Four Spiritual Laws and disciplined follow up studies showed all of us how to reach out with the gospel.

Young Life joined Youth for Christ as dynamic forces for evangelism, Bible study and good works in high schools across the land.

These changes were powerful because millions of young people came to Christ. However, the impact was much greater than simply evangelism. I think they did something that was even more far reaching and it led to The Fourth Great Awakening.

What could be more important than reaching millions for Christ? Establishing a new, focus with a new process of discipleship and growth for those who had come to faith. The new process proved that young, lay persons could do effective evangelism and discipleship. These campus groups were led by non clergy and proved that the Bible's call to "Equip all the believers to DO the WORK of MINISTRY" works. It is possible, effective and essential.

In the First Reformation, God took His Word out of the control of the few and gave it to all His people.

In this New Reformation, God has taken His Works out of the hands of the control of the few and given it to all His people.

This is the essence of the Fourth Great Awakening and it is largely due to the outpouring of the Spirit on young people and their leaders in the Sixties and Seventies.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Take Every Thought Captive to Christ

I am again teaching the classic course, Rational Christian Thinking, that I first developed and wrote back in the eighties. Pastor Brad Rosenberg asked me to train his staff and lay leaders how to live in the freedom of Christ and I agreed.

Because his wife Angie had gotten so much out of the training before she asked Brad to let everyone attend so young mothers like her could benefit from the training and rear their children free of fear and anxiety. So, we are teaching over 100 adults each Wednesday evening at Tri County Assembly of God in Fairfield, Ohio north of Cincinnati.

It is a thrill to be able to "Equip the saints to DO the work of ministry" and I love training them in ways to "Renew their minds" according to the Bible. The students are eagerly lapping up the information and responding with great interactions in the class.

Over the next few posts I will write some of the basic principles of biblically renewing the mind so the readers can start getting free from cultural, social and devilish ideas. I am amazed at how many Spirit filled Christians are ensnared in old fleshly ways to thinking, feeling and acting yet believe they "Have the mind of Christ."

A mind of Christ is a peaceful mind. It is Free from worry, free from anxiety and free from letting others put them down. They could care less what others think because they know what Jesus thinks.

So, read and reflect on how Gos can set us free from the "Stinking Thinking" that keeps us in bondage.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Grand Parenting

Karen and I are in Pittsburgh with Jack and Emma, our son's children while he and Shelley are in California. It is a lot of exhausting fun. I had forgotten how much work two kids are and how much joy they bring at the same time.

I awoke at 5:00 AM and Jack was already up. That means it is a long day. Getting him and Emma washed, dressed, fed and ready for the day was a challenge. Jack attends Covenant Presbyterian Pre-School so I had to find it and get him there in time. I met his teacher and saw the great program that Covenant has for kids and the way they preach the gospel in so many avenues.

Emma is MY girl. At age 14 months she loves her Papa. Her big smile anytime I am near melts my heart and we have a great time.

Children are messy. Very messy. They love to get their toys out and spread them liberally around the house. In five minutes the house is a wreck and they could care less.

But grand parents are not surprised or upset. It is just the way they are and we love it.

So, I am not writing about the Great Awakenings. I am just trying to stay awake.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

My Jesus Movement Story on Revival


When I first read the review of Nobel Prize winner Robert Fogel's book, The Fourth Great Awakening, I experienced a range of emotions from stunned, excited, frustrated and fascinated to saddened. Here was an expert in economics from the University of Chicago whose studies convinced him that revivals and awakenings in American history were having an amazingly high impact on our economy, the ways we work and how we see life. That is the exciting part.

I was frustrated because it took my over ten years to even hear of Dr. Fogel and I think I am well read about such things. Even more frustrating was the fact that I have never even met another Christian leader or scholar who has heard of Fogel or the Fourth Great Awakening. Wow! No wonder the church is losing its impact on the culture. We are unaware of one of the most important works about contemporary society that has ever been written.

Here is the third reason for my sadness and frustration. I am a product of the Jesus Movement and it was that national and international move of the Holy Spirit that spawned The Fourth Great Awakening. For many years I had a hunch that the move of God among Baby Boomer college students and young adults was a significant event in God's overall plan to redeem the world but Fogel gave me a historic perspective as well as economic insight into how God moves nations and their institutions.

I am a microcosm of how God works and how God did work to change millions in the Jesus Movement. Reading that book gave me an understanding how God used organizations, movements, governments and churches to push a larger agenda in the world and how long it takes to move all the pieces around on the chess board to accomplish His will. (For example, how many generations it took to rid America of slavery through revivals, education, books, magazines, marches and awakenings.)

I came to Cincinnati as an Associate Dean in 1967. God's Spirit was moving on me but I was so young and unlearned that the inspiration He offered me was not focused or wisely released. I was asked to leave my church because I was actually but unknowingly practising one of the most important tenets of an awakening.

I started Bible study groups in homes and that radical step of independence from church authority scared the leaders who gave me "the left foot of fellowship". These groups focused on encouraging members to 1. Seek God directly in prayer; 2. Hear God directly through the Bible. 3. Take actions directly o witness, serve, care for each other, etc because all Christians are called to be ministers.

These are the primary marks of the Fourth Great Awakening and they were great threats to the clergy and religious power brokers. They still are. Especially in the large mega churches and the mainline churches.

Unleashing God's people to do God's work in the world led to the most powerful and far reaching Awakening in history and I was excited to be part of it. I still am.

On October 2 Equipping Ministries International had a big reunion weekend with a time of honoring me and others who were involved in founding the organization in 1979 at College Hill Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati. I left EMI in 1994 to found Sweeten Life Systems but the ministry keeps moving along and says that over 500,000 people have graduated from our programs. Every class, groups and talk is based on what I learned in the Jesus Movement. We must "Equip the saints to do the work of ministry."

The church is sometimes gathered but it is most powerful when it is dispersed. When ordinary Christians realize they have an extraordinary God and take Him at His word to do His works. This is the essence of The Fourth Great Awakening and why Fogel won that prize in Economics.

Pass these articles on to you family and friends. Thy need to know what God is up to. If you know of a non-defensive, open to learn clergy person also ask them to read up on these things. If you are really brave, read Fogel's book. It will blow your mind.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Hope for a Christian Future


You may wonder why I am writing some of this dry history about what scholars call, Great Awakenings in American history. First, most Christians do not know about our spiritual history in America. Second, that history is exciting, faith building and hope generating. Third, we are in the midst of The Fourth Great Awakening for which I am very happy.

Understanding how God seems to operate in nations can help us think more effectively about ways to share the gospel, build disciples and gain insight into the daily news. Review the past Great Awakenings and notice that theology and actions by ordinary Believers mark each stage of change. Second, revivals and awakenings do not happen suddenly or out of the blue sky. They come about through our prayers, planning and openness to God's Spirit.

So, don't give up. Share God's good news with those around you and do good works with your neighbors and friends. The Holy Spirit will use the energy and prayers as well as the good works and weave together a beautiful tapestry of spiritual truth, love and power.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Second American Awakening 1800-1920


Another cycle of rising and falling spiritual power.

1800-1840: Rise of belief that anyone can achieve saving grace through inner and outer struggle against sin; introduction of camp meetings and intensified levels of revivals; widespread adoption of ethic of benevolence; upsurge of millennialism.

1840-1879: Rise of single issue reform movements, each contribute to making US fit for the Second Coming. (Included the nativist movement, the temperance movement which was successful in prohibiting the sale of alcohol in 13 states, and abolitionist movement that culminated in the formation of the republican party); sweeping reform agendas to eliminate all barriers to equal opportunity; antislavery; attacks corruption; Civil War; women's suffrage; continue belief in equality

1870-1920: Replacement of prewar evangelical leaders; Darwinian crisis; urban crisis

First American Awakening 1730-1830




1730-60: Weakening of predestination doctrine; recognition that many sinners may be predestined for salvation; introduction of revival meetings emphasizing spiritual rebirth; rise of ethic of benevolence.

1760-90: Attack on British corruption; American Revolution; equality of opportunity (accepted inequality of income & circumstances of life as natural, held that persons of low rank could raise themselves up—by industry, talent, perseverance, and right behavior—to top of the economic/social order); established egalitarian ethic.

1790-1830: Breakup of revolutionary coalition

Enemies of Christianity

Despite, or perhaps because of, the rapid growth and influence of Christianity around the world, there has been a parallel rise in its combative and aggressive enemies. Dr. Richard Dawkins along with other atheists and secular humanists have launched what is often seen as a cerebral, academic and scientific assault against the Bible and a supernatural world view.

Such an attack has cause anxiety among some Believers. Many of us fear that talks by such brilliant scientists and academic heavyweights will win the battle against our faith. I admit that I too have sometimes experienced anxiety over these attacks and need to take my concerns to the Lord.

I read a recent quote by one of the main antagonists today that gave me reason to feel very confident that God's words and works will and are winning the battle. Here is the quote found on the Discovery web.

"Mother Theresa spent her whole life saying (that what Calcutta needs) is a huge campaign against family planning. I mean, who comes to that conclusion who isn't a complete fanatic? She took - and I would directly say stole... millions and millions of dollars and spent all the money not on the poor, but on the building of nearly 200 convents in her own name around the world to glorify herself and to continue to spread the doctrine that, as she put it -- when she got her absurd Nobel Peace Prize -- that the main threat to world peace is abortion and contraception.

The woman was a fanatic and a fundamentalist and a fraud, and millions of people are much worse off because of her life, and it's a shame there is no hell for your bitch to go to."

Christopher Hitchens is a regular contributor to The New Republic, The Atlantic and Vanity Fair.


Why do you think this quote gives me confidence in our side of the debate? Let me know what you think.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Seasoned Believers Discerning the Times

Revival Camp Meeting Time


I believe we are in a new zeitgeist but the politicians, religious leaders and corporate leaders are missing most of it. Mr. Obama and his brain trust seemed to have caught the wave and rode it to victory in last year's election but they have currently regressed back to an earlier time. It will crush them if they don't wise up.


Many religious leaders seem to also miss what is happening as well. They talk about personal relationships, small groups, seeker friendly churches and meeting with people in Starbucks and on Face book. But in reality, when they set up a church they tend to fall back on what my professors used to call, "Theory X Leadership" when the world is rushing headlong into "Theory Y Partnerships".

Theory X is leadership from ignorance, hierarchy and distance. It is fond of bureaucracy, top down decisions, one way communication, secrecy, big meetings, mass communication, impersonal mass emails and talking heads with no feedback.

Theory Y Partnerships assume that we are equals in person hood, different in gifts and talents and that everyone has a place at the decision and action table. It is non hierarchical and open in communication while yearning for information and feedback as well as feed forward information.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We are in the Fourth Great Awakening with an overarching emphasis upon personal involvement in all affairs, mistrust of authority, hatred of fakes and a deep desire for spiritual involvement.

Great Awakenings begin with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that brings masses of people to faith in Christ. The next stage is marked by enormous enthusiasm for God, the Bible, worship and fellowship. Then people decide that they need to grow and learn how to follow Christ as His Disciples so study under a person, a church or institution is crucial. The next stage is that of involvement as a Disciple who serves God, usually in a religious setting.

After this stage the masses move from external religious emphasis to developing a deeper experience of the Spirit within. This leads them to seek ways to serve Go outside the church and religious realm so they turn to influencing family, society, community, politics and financial system.

In the late 1700's widespread revivals spread from town to town and village to village in the Colonies. This radically changed the face of the church situation from one dominated by Anglicans and Congregationalists, who were financially supported by taxes ala Great Britain, with a few Presbyterians thrown in to the rapid growth of two new groups. Baptists and Methodists.

The Baptists and Methodists wanted nothing to do with state support nor with seminary training. They relied on enthusiasm, individualism and God's personal leading to propel ministers on horseback and in house churches to preach, teach, baptize and support. After a few years these people dominated the life of the Colonies. They were generally anti-hierarchical, anti-organizational and defiantly independent.

In a few years these red blooded Colonialists started to preach that God had created all men equal and there was no such thing as "The Divine Rights of Kings". Until now such thoughts were foreign and unknown. Now they were openly preached, studied and believed by all but a few traditionalist Anglican Clergy and British Nobles.

Awakenings always focus on two issues: Political and Economic Freedom of choice. That was soon interpreted as "No taxation without representation" and "We have no God named King George". The Revolutionary War was a result of the First Great Revival that turned into the First Great Awakening.

Stay tuned for the second Great Awakening as well as the Third and today's Fourth Awakening.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Billy Graham Association's Leader Declines Pay


An article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy today tells about Franklin Graham giving up his salary for one year but he still makes a lot.


By Noelle Barton

A prominent charity executive who leads two big charities in North Carolina decided this month to stop receiving pay from one of the organizations.

The Rev. Franklin Graham, who serves as chief executive at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in Charlotte, as well as at Samaritan’s Purse, in Boone, will no longer receive compensation from the former.

Last year the Billy Graham association paid Mr. Graham $633,722, plus benefits of $36,060. Mr. Graham’s father, the Rev. Billy Graham, founded the charity in 1950, and Franklin Graham has been at the helm since 2001.

Also in 2008, Samaritan’s Purse paid Mr. Graham $308,206 and benefits of $174,547. He has served as that charity’s top executive since 1979.

“He just felt it was the best thing to do, given the current economic climate in the country,” said Mark DeMoss, spokesman for Mr. Graham and for both charities, in an e-mail message to The Chronicle. “He did not want his compensation to distract from the work of the two organizations.”

No Retirement Payments
Mr. Graham also directed both charities to suspend contributions to his retirement plans. That decision means the Billy Graham association will not contribute to his retirement in 2009 or 2010, and Samaritan’s Purse, which had already paid his 2009 contribution, will not make a contribution in 2010, Mr. DeMoss said.

“These are not necessarily permanent decisions and will likely be reviewed from year to year,” Mr. DeMoss said.

Both charities are listed on The Chronicle’s annual Philanthropy 400 list, just out this week, which ranks the top 400 charities in the country based on private donations.

Samaritan’s Purse, the larger of the two, ranked No. 59, and raised about $291-million in 2008, an increase of about 11 percent over 2007. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, No. 258, raised about $83-million in 2008, which was down about 5 percent from 2007.



What do you think about this story?

Saying No!


I was meeting with some friends tonight and we catted about the importance of dealing with adversity in a healthy manner. This friend has faced more adversity in his young life than most people and usually has an up beat, positive manner.

I know from years of counseling depressed people and from reading the research on how to be depressed and anxious that optimism is key to a mentally healthy life.

I asked him how he managed to do it with so much physical and emotional stress on his plate. My friend is honest and said that he has not always bouncced back from the difficulties of life but I finally decided to stop taking my "Happy Pills" and overcome this depression and pessimism with my intellect.

I asked, "How did you manage to do that?"

"Well, I have to think positively and not let myself get down. When I do my wife bugs me and makes me cheer up. Now I have to sometimes challenge others to cheer up as well or they will bring me down."

"Explain that a bit more," I said.

"One of my relatives gets all worried and I have to say 'NO!' You can't do that and talk that way around here. I have learned how to say no to people."

He went on: "In fact, I have a saying that helps me. It goes like this: 'Learning to say no will bring your more satisfaction than learning Latin.'"

Isn't that terrific? I love it. We must learn to say no to ourselves and to others when things start to get pessimistic. If we don't, it will take us down into anxiety, worry and depression.

Thanks for that advice my friend. I will pass it on to others.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What I have Learned about Healing in 30 Years


I have been involved in an active healing ministry for about 30 years. That is a long time and a lot of prayer. But it was worth it. Here are some of my insights.

1. Everyone has someone who needs healing. All of us have a problem, are a problem or make problems. This means that the original intent of Jesus role as "The Great Physician" and the Bible He inspired are still relevant today.

2. There is not condition or disease that cannot be substantially improved by the love, power and truth of Christians.

3. Very few churches or church leaders believe in or practice the kinds of healing ministries that Jesus ordered us to pursue. Pastors and leaders need to ask for courage to do what Jesus commanded when He said: "Go into the world and make good students of every language and ethnic group. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Make sure that they actually practice very thing I said and did. Do not forget that I will be with you."

4. Practicing the healing ministries of Jesus will win people to faith in God. Read Luke 10 if you want to see what Jesus designed as a "Missional" evangelistic ministry. Read Acts if you want to see how the early church evangelized.

5. It is time for all Christians to share God's love, His truth and His power so others can be healed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Welcoming Old Friends to the EMI Homecoming

 

Lois Dunn Welcomes
 

Lillian Rumford Welcomes

 

Betty Reid Welcomes
 
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Welcome to the Marriott

International Partners for Wholeness




















At the Equipping Ministries International banquet and homecoming it was announced that EMI is training Christians how to develop a "Lifetime of great relationships" in over 70 countries. Right now they are counting over 500,000 graduates of the training programs. It was great to catch up with the work of EMI.

My colleagues and I founded EMI as an outgrowth of the Teleios Center at College Hill Presbyterian Church. Larry Chrouch, Maurie Loomans, Pat Wray, Alice Petersen, Vivian Hayes, etc and I had a ball taking Teleios internationally.


After completing a Doctorate at University of Cincinnati in 1975 I started training Peer Helpers at CHPC. In 1976 we set up the Teleios Center to do what we could to facilitate "Wholeness" among our members. (Teleios means whole and complete.)
I took insights from my doctorate and used materials developed by Dr. Richard Walters to "Equip the members to do the work of the ministry". After a few years of great success ministers and counselors from other churches asked us to teach them how to do the same things at their churches. That was when I reorganized a 501 c3 not for profit called Christian Information Committee and folded our new ministry into it in 1979.

We developed a philosophy that said, "Freely you have received now freely give what you have to others". We decided to partner with ministers, missionaries, Christian counselors and educators to set up training centers around the USA and the world. We did not want to become a huge American organization but help others develop their own unique brand of Peer Helping, healing and Christian growth. That philosophy has been very successful.

Several friends and colleagues thought we were silly for taking that approach but the fact that EMI has now reached people in seventy nations is amazing and shows that the best way to expand a ministry is through establishing cells that could then multiply themselves. The process of acting like "dendrite cells" guided us from 1979to 1994 when I resigned as President.

EMI and the other groups we established after leaving EMI have been used by the Holy Spirit to bring God's truth, His fruit and His gifts to even more than is known. The reason is that I trained many missionary groups that took my materials and re branded them for use in their ministries.

YWAM has been especially open to learn and take our materials into the world. Larry and Ellen Chrouch have trained numerous YWAMMERS who in turn have trained numerous students to minister in numerous counseling centers all over the world. I applaud them for such fertile minds and reproductions.

Kirsten Callesen took our Listening materials and translated them for use in counseling people with Autism. It worked marvellously. Then she translated them into Nepalese. Kirsten is Danish and she translated our materials into Danish from English and then from Danish into Nepalese. With her materials she trained 50Believers from the persecuted churches in Nepal. Those fifty teachers and now teaching hundreds of their fellow countrymen and women.
Steve Griebling and I trained hundreds of ministers and cell groups leaders in Singapore and Taiwan who have taken the materials to the uttermost parts of Asia. The Holy Spirit revival in Asia is being followed by discipleship in love, care and healing.
The training centers in Russia set up by Galina Chentsova have multiplied into the entire former Soviet Bloc. Galina is healing families, addicts and Pastors by the hundreds.

Who knows? Maybe there are over 100 countries and one million people who have had their lives touched for the better through this First Century model of ministry expansion. Who says it will not work today?

Want to know more about
and how you can get involved?

Sweeten Life Systems

Old Friends Meet Again at EMI Banquet


 

Gary Sweeten and Steve Sjogren. Steve is the founder and first Pastor of the Vineyard movement in Cincinnati. Gary and Steve are good friends who have encouraged one another to greater love, greater power and greater truth.

Steve is presently in Florida stimulating Baby Boomers to reach their worlds. Steve has with God's grace and power, overcome tremendous medical obstacles to preach the good news and build God's Kingdom.



Gary Sweeten and Amel Whittaker at the EMI 30th anniversary banquet. Amel is a family therapist in the San Francisco area. He has been a good friend and teacher of the Life Skills Materials for many years.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tipping Points



Sometimes silence is not only golden it is also wise.

If you have not read Malcolm Gladwell's little book, Tipping Point yet I strongly suggest that you get it and peruse it as soon as possible. Not only is Gladwell a very good writer who entertains while he informs, this book will surely help you think about ways to influence others.

This boo suggests that small things can make a very big difference when it comes to change in society and groups. Some small things are like a virus that spreads from person to person in a rapid fire multiplication that touches lots of people.

Gladwell says there are three key types of influencers: Networkers, Mavens and Salesmen. Networkers seem to know many people and are in touch with them about the things they like. They are, therefore, like a virus.

Macens are those who possess a lot of knowledge about a topic and who love to share that knowledge with others. Most of us know someone who is a maven and we often ask them for information.

A sales person is able to "close the deal". They not only know people and have knowledge, they can get others to buy into the change process.

In the Wall Street Journal online there is a story about how one small event brought down the Berlin Wall and Communism. I hope you read the entire story, but here is the summary.

BERLIN -- The world believes Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev or peaceful protests brought down the Berlin Wall 20 years ago next month. But for those who had front-row seats, the argument boils down to Ehrman vs. Brinkmann.

Riccardo Ehrman, a veteran Italian foreign correspondent, and Peter Brinkmann, a combative German tabloid reporter, both claim they asked the crucial questions at a news conference on Nov. 9, 1989, that led East German Politburo member G√ľnter Schabowski to make one of the biggest fumbles in modern history.

Mr. Schabowski was supposed to announce a temporary bureaucratic procedure that would make it easier for East Germans to travel abroad, a tactic aimed at shoring up the Communist regime in the face of mass demonstrations.

Instead, he inadvertently opened the Berlin Wall.

When his fellow Communist leaders decided on new travel regulations, Mr. Schabowski was out of the room. Later that evening he skim-read the executive order, stuffed it in his briefcase, and headed off to meet the world's media.

Pressed on the meaning of the new travel policy -- When did it come into force? Did it apply to West Berlin? Did people need a passport? -- the flustered apparatchik rustled his papers and gave confusing answers that led the news media to believe the border was open, with immediate effect.

The result, once East Berliners had seen that night's news on West German television, was chaos at border crossings across the city.

At Bornholmer Strasse, one of the main checkpoints in central Berlin, confused border guards couldn't get clear orders on how to deal with the crush, and debated whether to open fire. Instead, they opened the barrier, and the Berlin Wall was history. The events have been chronicled by Hans-Hermann Hertle, a historian who specializes in the fall of East Germany.


This reminds me of the importance of hearing God when we are trying to be influencers in the world. I am always leery about my friends and colleagues who try too hard to force change. For example, a person running for the school board near my home advertises as a "Conservative Christian". This morning while drinking coffee with some friends the conversation focused on the fact that none of them would vote for a person who was agressively attempting to force her views on the school board and the kids.

This person may be a wonderful and sensitive Believer. I do not know. But the way to make friends and influence people is not by force or pressure but applying a small amount of networking, sales wisdom and knowledge at the right time and the right place. Small things can bring great changes.

At Sweeten Life Systems we teach people how to be gentle, caring and wise influencers. It takes patience, wisdom and understanding. All of which are in short supply in the world and one reason we teach Christians how to manage their own thoughts and feelings. If I cannot manage me how can I manage others?