Friday, February 27, 2009

Faith, Hope and Love

There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow. Orison Swett Marden

If our hope for tomorrow is based on politicians, the economy or any human act we will very likely be sorely disappointed. The market goes up and down every day. The newscasters are paid to spread hopelessness and fear.

Politicians have decided that they need to be "fair" and take money from people who worked hard based on the hope and expectation that making money, saving it and planning well would give them enough to live on for the future. We thought hope would come from a 401 K, but now that hope is dashed.

But God sent Jesus into the world to save us eternally and give us hope for a brighter future with Him and His people. I am placing my hope in God.

Psalm 42

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

3 My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”

4 When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,
And from the heights of Hermon,
From the Hill Mizar.

7 Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.

8 The LORD will command
His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.

9 I will say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

10 As with a breaking of my bones,
My enemies reproach me,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mass Rebellion Against Obama

I saw this posted on Facebook tonight. I agree with it.

Let us all have communion this week and ask Jesus to be a real presence with the President and the USA. We certainly need Him to be here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Save the Monkeys-Kill the Babies

Sometimes I wonder about the Congress. Especially when they do things like pass an emergency bill to save monkeys from being pets.

Fast action on the Hill

Forget the stimulus -- this one moved really fast.

From the Humane Society:U.S. House of Representatives Passes Captive

Primate Safety ActWASHINGTON (Feb. 24, 2009) — Eight days after a chimpanzee kept as a pet attacked and critically injured a Connecticut woman, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Captive Primate Safety Act, H.R. 80, introduced by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., to stop interstate commerce in primates as pets. The bill passed by a vote of 323 to 95. The bill now moves for consideration to the U.S. Senate, where the effort to pass the legislation is being led by U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and David Vitter, R-La.

This is especially tragic when we consider that Congress refuses to ban late term abortions. Life is cheap but monkeys are precious.

Prayer for Russian Ministry

On Monday the Palace of Culture will close for 3 months. Starting Wednesday the building will be sealed by the prosecutor's office. It is not clear yet whether the building will actually be opened in 3 months or ever again. An official reason for that is fire inspection of the building.

We know the "The Official Reason" in Russia is rarely the "Real Reason".

This space is critically important to the ministry there. Ask God to break through and break in.

Gary Sweeten

Helping Special Children Grow

We recently received a grant from the Hatton Foundation to research the needs of families with special needs children and develop models for meeting those needs. This is a huge and exciting venture.

One of our dear friends and former students in Denmark is Kirsten Callesen. She left her former position to get a Masters and Doctorate with specialties in Special Education. Kirsten took the materials she had learned in the

Apples and RCT classes and developed her unique approach for helping kids with Aspergers.

You can see her work at the CAT Kit web site.

It is very exciting to see Seasoned Believers take on such large challenges, especially when they are doing a great job.

Take a lool at this video on how they are working with kids.
Pray that we will be able to develop ministries that are as great as my friends in Denmark. I will visit with Kirsten in March when I go there to teach.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Needed: Entrepreneurs

Christians must stop thinking like those in Sixteenth Century European villages. The focus back then was to raise up a few educated Priests and Pastors who would tell the village what to think, what to do and what to eat.

The situation has completely changed since the Dark Ages and the Protestant Reformation. It is time we started thinking about how to raise up thousands of Spirit filled entrepreneurs to fill the seats of science, education, medicine, politics and business. Gone are the days when a local Priest was the only person who could read and write or who had travelled outside the village walls.

Take a look at the video on leadership by the Washington Post. It clearly lays out a model for us to follow and I am expecting the Seasoned Believers of the world to lead the race.

Gary Sweeten

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pelosi and the Pope

Elephants are living beings in their mother's womb

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is Nancy Pelosi. Ms. Pelosi is very proud of her Roman Catholic heritage and speaks about it often. In fact, she took the opportunity not long ago to lecture Americans about the fact that the Roman Catholic Church had only recently begun to think abortion was wrong.

Ms. Pelosi has also noted her personal opposition to abortion but, she suggests, she is bound to support it because it is in the Constitution of the United States. She, like many of her colleagues, regrets the fact that Roman Catholics must not allow their personal, religious views get in the way of supporting the Constitution.

On her recent trip to Rome and the Vatican, Ms. Pelosi seems to have gotten a personal lecture on Roman Catholic theology from Pope Benedict, a theological expert. According to some reports, he told Ms. Pelosi that under no circumstances was a Roman Catholic politician allowed to promote abortion.

I do not know if Ms. Pelosi, the third person in line for the Presidency after Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden, was able to correct the Pope about the US approach to Catholic theology, but I sure hope so. According to many Catholics, the new Pope is very confused about abortion and actually thinks that babies are alive in the womb.

Way to go Ms. Speaker!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Galloping Greed

I read an interesting blog post today about the ways we have gotten ourselves into such a mess economically. Take a look and see what you think.

The blogger mentioned a hallowed name in Christian missions and contemporary theology, Leslie Newbingin. Rev Newbingin was an Anglican Missionary in India for many years. When he returned to England upon retiring he saw that England had almost completely lost her way as a Christian nation.

I spent two weeks in Kenya in 1983 and came back to Oxford for a week before my return to the USA. I think my reaction to England must have been somewhat like Bishop Newbingin's. He and I had both been in nations where Christianity was fresh, exciting and dynamic. Both had come to faith in Jesus Christ through Missionaries from England's Anglican and Methodist groups.

Back in Great Britain, things were not so great. In fact, the churches had essentially lost their faith and had become museums of a prior era. In Kenya congregations gathered on every corner at the beat of a drum. Indian was similar. That missionary faith was growing and expansive in attitude. Millions were coming to faith and the churches of all sorts were growing, often despite severe persecution.

The people in England had grown fat and demanding. An entitlement mentality led citizens to expect the government to take care of them and whining replaced worship. The denominations were bureaucratic and the leaders self serving while preaching about serving the poor.

Bishop Newbingin began to write and preach about regaining a missionary or missional attitude. he saw that unless Christians had a passion to evangelize the homeland England was doomed. The galloping greed of the West was creating havoc and self destruction.

The same can be said about the USA. Unless we regain our passion for reaching unbelievers and sharing the good news with our neighbors and friends the current crisis will cause us all to be spiritually crushed. Jesus said it plainly; "You cannot serve both God and Money."

Let us seek God's direction and power to preach the good news with faith, hope and love. Let us regain that missionary spirit that led the US to send missionaries around the world to take the good news to others. Homeland missionaries are desperately needed in the USA today as the primary antidote to the economic crisis.

Gary Sweeten

Monday, February 16, 2009

Vision for Greater Cincinnati

The wise leaders in Greater Cincinnati have brought together a group of citizens to figure out ways to keep us strong in the future. That is a very tough job. It is a planning nightmare because nobody really knows the future or how to make it happy for a city. You can read the report on the Cincinnati Enquirers web page.

I urge all citizens to interact with the media on these matters. As I see things, the media are getting more and more interested in our views because they are losing eyeballs. Here is my letter to the editor about the report.

Dear Editor:

I tried to read the 360 report carefully and see exactly what was being promoted. I had a few serious concerns.

1. The vision seems extremely "Blue Sky" as if they did little but brainstorm and fill a few flip charts with great ideas. Where are the specifics?

2. I did not see much in the way of supporting small businesses, which are the great engine of employment, innovation and community support.

3. There were some Politically Correct hints at inclusion but the report focused on only two groups that I can recall: a. Young persons and, b. Singles. Not long ago the Enquirer had a great series on the need to keep Seasoned Citizens and their billions of dollars in savings as well as their unmatched depth of experience in the area. Where is the 360 concern for all those resources?

4. Faith based groups were left off completely.

Are we to assume that these were accidentally overlooked or intentionally excluded to focus on non-traditional, non-family, irreligious poor youth?2/16/2009 7:45:39 PM

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Prayer to Roman Catholic Saints

At lunch today we had a very interesting conversation about how to pray. One of our newer members asked why we didn't say much about honoring Mary, the Mother of Jesus. We tried to say that Protestants do indeed honor and respect Mary but we do not pray to her or consider her to be equal to Jesus.

He looked quizzically at us and replied, "But we do teach that it is OK to pray to Saints. Don't we?" The answer is a resounding, "No."

He was surprised and openly thought about it because his entire life had been in a Roman Catholic Church where praying to Mary and other Saints was normal and regular. Why do Evangelicals not pray to Saint George, Saint Francis or Saint Mary? Do we have a good reason or is it simply a rebellion against Roman Catholicism?

In Greater Cincinnati, it is estimated that half the population is Roman Catholic. This means that a lot of people who attend Evangelical Churches still cling to RC theology because there has been little if any systematic teaching about what Evangelicals believe.

Why do Protestants not pray to Saints?
Keep your answers limited to this question alone. I will look at the issue of Roman Catholics and indulgences later. That topic was on the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer today and it is causing many confusing discussions because few people understand RC theology.

Great Story About Hudson River Crash


Sunday, February 15, 2009, 10:04 AM
This is a great story written by a passenger on the flight that crashed in the Hudson River . Take the time to read it, it is worth it.This is from a Partner at Heidrick & Struggles who was on Flight 1549.As many of you now know, Gerry McNamara (New York/Charlotte) was on US Airways Flight 1549 last week. We caught up with him to discuss the harrowing incident and - in a departure from our usual format -present his stirring account as told to us:

Thursday was a difficult day for all of us at the firm and I left the Park Avenue office early afternoon to catch a cab bound for LaGuardia Airport.I was scheduled for a 5pm departure, but able to secure a seat on the earlier flight scheduled to leave at 3PM. As many of us who fly frequently often do, I recall wondering if I'd just placed myself on a flight I shouldn't be on!Just prior to boarding I finished up a conference call with my associate, Jenn Sparks ( New York ), and our placement, the CIO of United Airlines. I remember walking on the plane and seeing a fellow with grey hair in the cockpit and thinking "that's a good thing... I like to see grey hair in the cockpit!"

I was seated in 8F, on the starboard side window and next to a young business man. The New York to Charlotte flight is one I've taken what seems like hundreds of times over the years. We take off north over the Bronx and as we climb, turn west over the Hudson River to New Jersey and tack south.

I love to fly, always have, and this flight plan gives a great view of several NY landmarks including Yankee Stadium and the George Washington Bridge .I had started to point out items of interest to the gentleman next tome when we heard a terrible crash - a sound no one ever wants to hear while flying - and then the engines wound down to a screeching halt. Ten seconds later, there was a strong smell of jet fuel. I knew we would be landing and thought the pilot would take us down no doubt to Newark Airport .

As we began to turn south I noticed the pilot lining up on the river still - I thought - en route for Newark. Next thing we heard was "Brace for impact!" - a phrase I had heard many years before as an active duty Marine Officer but never before on a commercial air flight.

Everyone looked at each other in shock. It all happened so fast we were astonished! We began to descend rapidly and it started to sink in. This is the last flight. I'm going to die today. This is it.

I recited my favorite bible verse, the Lord's Prayer, and asked God to take care of my wife,children, family and friends.When I raised my head I noticed people texting their friends and family; getting off a last message. My blackberry was turned off an din my trouser pocket. I had no time to get at it. Our descent continued and I prayed for courage to control my fear and help if able.

I quickly realized that one of two things was going to happen, neither of them good. We could hit by the nose, flip and break up, leaving few if any survivors, bodies, cold water, fuel. Or we could hit one of the wings and roll and flip with the same result. I tightened my seat belt as tight as I could possibly get it so I would remain intact.

As we came in for the landing, I looked out the windows and remember seeing the buildings in New Jersey , the cliffs in Weehawken , and then the piers. The water was dark green and sure to be freezing cold.

The stewardesses were yelling in unison "Brace! Brace! Brace!" It was a violent hit - the water flew up over my window - but we bobbed up and were all amazed that we remained intact.

There was some panic - people jumping over seats and running towards the doors, but we soon got everyone straightened out and calmed down.There were a lot of people that took leadership roles in little ways. Those sitting at the doors over the wing did a fantastic job; they we reopened in a New York second! Everyone worked together - teamed up and in groups to figure out how to help each other.

I exited on the starboard side of the plane, 3 or 4 rows behind my seat through a door over the wing and was, I believe, the 10Th or 12Th person out. I took my seat cushion as a flotation device and once outside saw I was the only one who did, none of us remembered to take the yellow inflatable life vests from under the seat.

We were standing in 6-8 inches of water and it was freezing. There were two women on the wing, one of whom slipped off into the water. Another passenger and I pulled her back on and had her kneel down to keep from falling off again. By that point we were totally soaked and absolutely frozen from the icy wind. The ferries were the first to arrive, and although they're not made for rescue, they did an incredible job.

I know this river, having swum in it as a boy. The Hudson is an estuary - part salt and part freshwater - and moves with the tide. I could tell the tide was moving out because we were tacking slowly south towards Ellis Island , The Statue of Liberty , and The Battery .

The first ferry boat pulled its bow up to the tip of the wing, and the first mate lowered the Jacobs ladder down to us. We got a couple people up the ladder to safety, but the current was strong pushing the stern of the boat into the inflatable slide and we were afraid it would puncture it there must have been 25 passengers in it by now. Only two or three were able to board the first ferry before it moved away.

Another ferry came up, and we were able to get the woman that had fallen into the water on the ladder, but she just couldn't move her legs and fell off. Back onto the ladder she went; however, the ferry had to back away because of the swift current.

A helicopter arrived on station (nearly blowing us all off the wing) and followed the ferry with the woman on the ladder. We lost view of the situation but I believe the helicopter lowered its basket to rescue her.

As more ferries arrived, we were able to get people up on the boats a few at a time. The fellow in front of me fell off the ladder and into the water. When we got him back on the ladder he could not move his legs to climb. I couldn't help him from my position so I climbed up the ladder to the ferry deck where the first mate and I hoisted the Jacobs ladder with him on it; when he got close enough we grabbed his trouser belt and hauled him on deck.

We were all safely off the wing.We could not stop shaking. Uncontrollable shaking. The only thing I had with me was my blackberry, which had gotten wet and was not working. (It started working again a few hours later).

The ferry took us to the Weehawken Terminal in NJ where I borrowed a phone and called my wife to let her know I was okay. The second call I made was to Jenn. I knew she would be worried about me and could communicate to the rest of the firm that I was fine.

At the terminal,first responders assessed every one's condition and sent people to the hospital as needed. As we pulled out of Weehawken my history kicked in and I recall it was the site of the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr in 1804. Thankfully I left town in better condition than Mr. Hamilton who died of a mortal wound the next day! I stayed with my sister on Long Island that evening, then flew home the next day.

I am struck by what was truly a miracle. Had this happened a few hours later, it would have been pitch dark and much harder to land. Ferries would no longer have been running after rush hour and it would not have been the same uplifting story. Surely there would have been fatalities, hypothermia, an absolute disaster! I witnessed the best of humanity that day. I and everyone on that plane survived and have been given a second chance.

It struck me that in our work we continuously seek excellence to solve our client's leadership problems. We talk to clients all the time about the importance of experience and the ability to execute. Experience showed up big time on Flight 1549 as our pilot was a dedicated, trained, experienced professional who executed flawlessly when he had to.

I have received scores of emails from across the firm and I am so grateful for the outpouring of interest and concern. We all fly a great deal or work with someone who does and so I wanted to share this story - the story of a miracle. I am thankful to be here to tell the tale.

There is a great deal to be learned including:

Why has this happened to me?

Why have I survived and what am I supposed to do with this gift? For me, the answers to these questions and more will come overtime, but already I find myself being more patient and forgiving, less critical and judgmental.

For now I have 4 lessons I would like to share:

1. Cherish your families as never before and go to great lengths to keep your promises.

2. Be thankful and grateful for everything you have and don't worry about the things you don't have.

3. Keep in shape. You never know when you'll be called upon to save your own life, or help someone else save theirs.

4. When you fly, wear practical clothing. You never know when you'll end up in an emergency or on an icy wing in flip flops and pajamas and of absolutely no use to yourself or anyone else.

Thanks to all who have reached out, I look forward to seeing you soon!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Muslims Long for Heaven

I was reared in a strongly conservative culture where hell was discussed a lot. We longed for heaven. Now, Christians have it so good that we rarely discuss heaven or hell. Muslims are different and I can see why. No Valentine's Day celebrations are allowed.

The Arab News reports that in Saudi Arabia, opposition to Valentine's Day has the imprimatur of the state: The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice intensified its vigilance over flower, chocolate and gift shops to confiscate items related to Valentine's Day, a perennial crackdown on a holiday perceived by many to be both Western and immoral.

These do not sound like the actions of a civilization confident in its own superiority. In a speech Egyptian cleric Hazem Shuman sounds even less confident: Imagine that the Prophet Muhammad is standing before you, and so are the Jews and the Christians. The more you celebrate Valentine's Day, the more the Jews and Christians are happy, and the more the Prophet Muhammad is sad. The more you do this, the more the Jews and the Christians gloat at us, while tears flow from the Prophet's eyes. Do you want to make the Prophet sad and the Jews and Christians happy?!

He makes the prophet sound like a man in trouble. He says: People, if Muhammad Ahmad Ibrahim holds a party, and George Mikhail whatever holds a different party, [Muhammad the Muslim] will wear the same clothes as [George the Christian], both will buy dresses for their wives from the same shop, both will seat their wives on the stage for all the people to see, both will book a hall in the same club, both will invite single men and women and have them intermingle, both will hire a band, musicians, and female singers and dancers, and both will have crowds intermingling outside the club. If you are invited to Muhammad's party, how would you distinguish it from George's party?
No wonder they long for paradise.
PS If you do not understand God's grace and mercy, you might even mistake Islamic legalism and grim adherence to these standards as being admirable. On one of my trips to the Holy Land a friend was constantly admiring Muslims because they prayed five times each day. I told him those prayers were to a god of revenge and that Jesus showed us a tender Father.

Stressed or Trusting

Check out my last sermon at Horizon Community Church called, From Worry to Trust. You can also download my Power Point slides at the same link.

In that talk I mention how we can drive ourselves into misery by the ways we think. So, if you like misery, you gotta listen to it.

Love and Marriage

Karen and I have been married over 47 years and it gets sweeter every year. Here are some thoughts about marriage from youthful but keen observers.


"You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming." Alan, age 10

"No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with." Kirsten, age 10


"Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then." Camille, age 10

"No age is good to get married at. You got to be a fool to get married." Freddie, age 6

"Married people usually look happy to talk to other people." Eddie, age 6

"You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids." Derrick, age 8


"Both don't want no more kids." Lori, age 8


"Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough." Lynne, age 8

"On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date." Martin, age 10


"I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns." Craig, age 9


"When they're rich." Pam, age 7

"The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that." Curt, age 7

"The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do." Howard, age 8

"I don't know which is better, but I'll tell you one thing. I'm never going to have sex with my wife. I don't want to be all grossed out." Theodore, age 8

"It's better for girls to be single, but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them." Anita, age 9

"Single is better, for the simple reason that I wouldn't want to change no diapers. Of course, if I did get married, I'd just phone my mother and have her come over for some coffee and diaper-changing." Kirsten, age 10


"There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?" Kelvin, age 8

"You can be sure of one thing - the boys would come chasing after us just the same as they do now." Roberta, age 7


"If you want to last with your man, you should wear a lot of sexy clothes, especially underwear that is red and has a few diamonds on it." Lori, age 8

"Tell your wife that she looks pretty even if she looks like a truck." Ricky, age 10

Ricky has it right. Affirm your wife no matter what. The research shows that we need a 5 X 1 ratio of affirmation to complaints to have a great marriage.

A Joke in Danish

Pardon my weird sense of humor. I posted in Danish that I cannot read as a way to get some attention. Here in English about my upcoming trip back to Scandinavia.

The Lord took me to Kenya, East Africa in 1983 to meet Jens-Petter Jorgensen, one of the founders and leaders of the Holy Spirit renewal in Norway. We became friends and he invited me to speak at a conference for Pastors, Missionaries and Church Leaders in 1986. I along with Larry Chrouch, Ellen Chrouch, Steve Griebling and Hal Schell traveled to Oslo for a conference on healing, counseling and love in the church. God showed up in a very powerful and life changing manner.

That small beginning led Jens-Petter and his organization, OASE (Oasis) to invite us back for leadership training retreats. We met annually at Vats, a ski center high in the mountains of Norway for worship, teaching, small groups and great skiing. Leaders from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland came for healing and growth.

One of the Danish Leaders was Peder Paulsen. We became friends and he took our materials back home where I visited many times and now Peder is doing family healing and bringing renewal to the nation.

Here we are over twenty years later and I am returning to Norway and Denmark to see my friends, experience God's presence and share what it means to be a healing community filled with the Spirit's truth, power and love. I will also focus on following God as a Seasoned Believer.

Pray for my trip and our gatherings. I arrive in Oslo March 9 and will be ministering there for a week before going on to Denmark and back to the USA on March 19.

I injured both shoulders on the last trip to Russia and I need God's healing grace to take luggage on this trip. Also pray for the necessary financial support.


Gary Sweeten

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gary Sweeten in Denmark

For my friends who wish to pray for my upcoming trip to Norway and Denmark, here is the schedule. Add Image

Ja, her kommer en pdf fil som indeholder programmet.
Vi begynder mandag morgen i København og tirsdag morgen i Silkeborg.
Jeg er med begge steder.
Der er tolk på i København – jeg har ikke arrangeret noget i Silkeborg pt. Jeg regner ikke med du skal tolkes.
Gina vil gerne hjælpe med overnatning. Lige nu har jeg ikke besluttet hvordan vi kommer fra København til Jylland. Måske med aftentog. Så har vi tid til at sidde og snakke.
Jeg regner med du har kontakt med Gary i forbindelse med norgesarrangementet så du får noget på plads med rejseplanerne. Hvad forestiller du dig?

Mange hilsner

Peder Poulsen
Familierådgiver, cand. theol.
Midgaardsvej 4, DK 8920 Randers NV
Tlf/SMS 2043 6732

Gary Sweeten

Darwin or Moses?

The Washington Post has an interesting article on Darwin and his faith in God. Are you surprised? did you assume he was an atheist who lost his childhood faith after realizing it was childish?

Many atheists hold him up as a god because they assume he was one of them. And, many church folk hold him up as a false god or a straw man to scare their members away from the study of science. My Sunday school teacher said that my decision to study psychology and counseling was a mistake because it was from the devil.

Take a look for yourselves in the Wash Post and see what you think of Charley.

Gary Sweeten

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Etics in Business?

My friend Michael McLelan has been sending me some great articles from blogs about ethics in business. Earlier today Michael passed this one from Forbes Magazine along to me. I think you will find it interesting.

Michael G. McLelan

Senior Vice President, Business Markets
PowerNet Global Communications

800-319-0075 office

PNG is a great company in Cincinnati. They work and live in a very ethical manner.

Gary Sweeten

Need a Man?

A store that sells husbands has just opened in Ottawa where a woman may go to choose a husband from among many men. The store is comprised of 6 floors, and the men increase in positive attributes as the shopper ascends the flights. There is, however, a catch. As you open the door to any floor you may choose a man from that floor, but if you go up a floor, you cannot go back down except to exit the building.

So a woman goes to the shopping center to find a husband.On the first floor the sign on the door reads: "Floor 1 - These men have jobs." The woman reads the sign and says to herself, "Well, that's better than my last boyfriend, but I wonder what's further up?" So up she goes.

The second floor sign reads: "Floor 2 - These men have jobs and love kids." The woman remarks to herself, "That's great, but I wonder what's further up?" And up she goes again.

The third floor sign reads: "Floor 3 - These men have jobs, love kids, and are extremely good looking." "Hmmm, better." she says. "But I wonder what's upstairs?"

The fourth floor sign reads: "Floor 4 - These men have jobs, love kids, are extremely good looking, and help with the housework." "Wow!" exclaims the woman, "very tempting. BUT, there must be more further up!" And again she heads up another flight.

The fifth floor sign reads: "Floor 5 - These men have jobs, love kids, are extremely good looking, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak." "Oh, mercy me! But just think what must be awaiting me further on?" So up to the sixth floor she goes.

The sixth floor sign reads: "Floor 6 - You are visitor 3,456,789,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please."


It is hard to be content. St. Paul said that he had learned to be content despite the circumstances, and let's fact it, Paul had CIRCUMSTANCES!

I find it easy to complain even when my circumstances are pretty good compared to most people. I am spoiled and like it that way.

I have noted before that there has been a ten fold increase in the diagnosis of depression and anxiety since 1900. Maybe the times we live in now are worse than back then. From 1900 to 1950 there was WWI, the flu epidemic killed over 20 million young people, a worldwide economic collapse put some 30% of US citizens out of work.

WWII killed 50 million people and the Korean War, the cold War and international tensions between the USSR and the USA led many in America to build nuclear shelters in their back yards. Stress? You betcha.

Let's face it, world conditions are not sweet and peaceful but life is much better now than in 1900. In fact, we live twice as long now as then. The lack of resilience. People in earlier times expected times to be hard and they expected to bounce back. They "Took a licking and kept on ticking."

Here is the ART of Peaceful living.

A-Adversity is real, daily and to be expected. Adversity is not God's punishment or always my failure. Resilience is important.

R-Renew my mind. Take Pessimistic Thoughts Captive.

T-Trust God. He will care for us.

See my web page tor more materials.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Those Controversial Gifts of God

I am of the conviction that those who fail to exercise their God given spiritual gifts will get spiritually, emotionally and physically sick. Not as a punishment from God but as result of failing to fully utilize the spiritual energy that resides within them.

It is a mystery to me why so few ministers, ministries and churches teach about or encourage their people to discover and use the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

It is clear that the Bible teaches that every Christian has the Holy Spirit within them and that every Christian has spiritual gifts, yet George Barna, who is a top researcher on all things religious, has a report out on the confusion of Christians about the gifts. Here are a few of his conclusions.

Awareness of spiritual gifts was most common among self-described Christians who live in the South (75%) and West (71%), and least common among those living in the Midwest (63%) and Northeast (58%).

Such awareness also varied within the various segments of the self-described Christian population. For instance, 99% of evangelicals have heard of spiritual gifts, far more than the 74% among non-evangelical born again Christians and 58% among notional Christians. Similarly, there was a large gap between Protestants (75%) and Catholics (54%) in awareness.

Even within the Protestant community there was a noteworthy gap between those who attend a mainline church (68% awareness) and those who attend a Protestant congregation not associated with a mainline denomination (78%).

What do you think about the gifts? Do you believe in the gifts as outlined in I CO 12? Hit the comment button and let it fly.

Leadership Must Slow Down

I recently found a listing of "The Top 100 Blogs on Leadership". When I went to the site I found one blog named, Slow Leadership. I like that title.

Leadership is slow because peopole change slowly. Organizations change even more slowly and we leaders are way to fast in how we expect them to change.

In my books on listening and influence I have often noted that a listener's mind runs ten times faster than another person can talk. That menas we are uring the speaker to talk faster or we will interrupt them to get our ideas into their mouths. As my friend Larry Chrouch says, "I am not an active listener but I am an active interruptor." (Larr is really a great listener.)

Leaders who interrupt and try to hasten change usually end up slowing it down.
It is not possible to push a chain. It is also not possible to push a church. Good leaders attract others and pull them forward. Are you pushing or pulling?

Gary Sweeten

Friday, February 06, 2009

Pres. Obama Expands Faith Based Office

President Obama yesterday announced the creation of his faith-based outreach office, expanding its agenda beyond funding social programs to work on policies aimed at strengthening family life and reducing abortion.
Read the Washington Post article.

Maybe the Lord has a plan to open the doors of the government to the people who are doing the most to promote healthy families and prevent divorces and abortions.
President Bush was assailed by the Left for his approach to promote faith based ministry in the community. Mr. Obama has immunity from much of that criticism.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Growing in Christ is not for Cowards

This post a few days ago garnered a few comments but not as many as I wanted. It is my hope to stimulate some deeper thinking on the part of my readers and enter into dialogue with you. Read it again and see if you agree with Dr. David Benner, the author and an author in spiritual growth.

Conversion is the lifelong transformational process of being remade into the image of God. It is so much more than simply trying to avoid sin. The focus of repentance and conversion is Jesus, not my sin nor my self. My attachment to sinful ways of being is much too strong to ever be undone by mere willpower. There is no substitute for surrender to divine love as the fuel to propel such undoing. Divine love transforms both my heart and my will. Divine love enables me to choose God’s will over mine. Without this, repentance will be nothing more than a self-help scheme based on effort and resolve." David Benner, Surrender to love.

Graced again is compiled by Tom Wood, Church Multiplication Ministries, a non-profit, whose mission is starting, strengthening, multiplying grace-centered churches through consults and coaching church planting pastors, leaders and emerging leaders. Sign up on the web at Graced Again.

I agree with some and disagree with some.

1. Conversion is the lifelong transformational process of being remade into the image of God.
I disagree.

a. The issue is not just conversion which indicates a willful repenting and turning away from our behavior. Sanctification or growth in Christ requires more than will power because the fall did more than tempt us to make bad but conscious decisions. Luther's first book was called Bondage of the Will and indicates his genius to see that sin is deep and unconscious. Thus we all need God's power not just our will power to set us free within.
Benner says we are in bondage My attachment to sinful ways of being is much too strong to ever be undone by mere will power.
but contradicts himself by going on to state:

There is no substitute for surrender to divine love as the fuel to propel such undoing.

I cannot surrender without God's visitation first.

Sanctification also means that we live in a perpetual state of confession of our true moral guilt; that we recognize and admit that we deserve justice but we have justification through Jesus.

Last, we are covered with a sense of shame or a loss of identity and inheritance. When we through Adam and Eve were removed from paradise, we entered a universe of confusion. But through God we have been adopted and give a new name, a new identity and a new inheritance.

Sanctification means that we need Jesus to take care of our will, our sickness, our guilt and our shame on a daily basis. Repentance is impossible without all the rest.

b. We did not lose our imago Dei at the Fall in Eden. It was deeply marred but not destroyed. The most important aspects of the imago Dei, such as an ability to relate to the Godhead and make decisions and think remain in humanity. Perhaps the most important dimension, that of being a Vice Regent or Ambassador for God, is intact. Even though we are deeply flawed God continues to imbue us with His call to represent Him around the world.

I would say, "Sanctification is the sum total of receiving God's mercy and grace to set me free from all known and unknown sin, guilt, shame and bondage.

What do you think?

Developing a Heart with Jesus

I remember when we asked Richard Foster to speak at our church. I was Minister of Christian Discipleship and our Committee had read Richard's new book on The Spiritual Disciplines with great excitement. We were deeply touched by his review of the traditional disciplines used by saints and pastors for some 2000 years and we wanted to hear him teach how we as a church could facilitate deeper relationships with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

We were not disappointed. He taught, he shared his personal life and he encouraged us with stories from people like the Dessert Fathers whose devotion and connection with God made us all thirsty for something more ourselves.

Christianity Today published a short essay by Mr. Foster in their most recent electronic blog. It is well worth reading. I hope it inspires many of your to purchase his books and start a Spiritual Discipline Group with others who want something more in life.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Habitat for Humanity Founder Passes into Glory

Unleash your faith and change the halls of power!
Millard Fuller, one of the founders of Habitat for Humanity died yesterday. His passing leaves a tremendous gap in the people who have used their treasure, gifts and talents for God and good.

One of the most important movements in the world the past fifty years has been a transition in the church from depending exclusively on theologically trained leaders to leadership by what used to be considered "The Laity". There has never been a more radical shift in Christianity than the transformation from professional led structures to those that are powered and led by men and women from the grass roots.

Millard Fuller was a millionaire whose commitment to Christ led to a radical change in his lifestyle. He gave most of his money to charity but retained the genius that led him to amass a fortune. He was an entrepreneur of the highest order and used his gifts, talents and innovative nature to build one of the largest and most successful charities in the world.

We desperately need more men and women like Millard Fuller and his wife. The only way the issues and problems that confront us around the world can be solved is if ordinary men and women use their God given strengths to tackle these seemingly intractable problems.

Who is the next Millard Fuller who will lead the challenge of health insurance? What woman or man has the gifts and insight to start a ministry to help single moms? Where are the people whose financial acumen to train churches how to unleash better ways to rear children?

Here is the first rule of being a social/spiritual entrepreneur. Do not allow anyone in authority stop you from using your strengths to change the world where you live. Take a look at my web page to see how to get involved.
See the Chronicle of Philantrophy for more information.

Monday, February 02, 2009

What Empowers Christian Growth?

I hear a lot of people talking about Christian growth but few that do much about it. Every week I receive a quote about God's grace from a great ministry that works hard to facilitate individual and church growth.

I normally enjoy it because I agree with it. (I'm funny that way.) The one I received today did not quite agree with my understanding of the ways to enable and empower Christian growth.Read it and see what you think. I would love to hear your insights.

"Conversion is the lifelong transformational process of being remade into the image of God. It is so much more than simply trying to avoid sin. The focus of repentance and conversion is Jesus, not my sin nor my self. My attachment to sinful ways of being is much too strong to ever be undone by mere willpower. There is no substitute for surrender to divine love as the fuel to propel such undoing. Divine love transforms both my heart and my will. Divine love enables me to choose God’s will over mine. Without this, repentance will be nothing more than a self-help scheme based on effort and resolve." David Benner, Surrender to love.

Graced again is compiled by Tom Wood, Church Multiplication Ministries, a non-profit, whose mission is starting, strengthening, multiplying grace-centered churches through consults and coaching church planting pastors, leaders and emerging leaders. Sign up on the web at Graced Again.
Do you agree with Benner? Why? Why not?
Gary Sweeten

Marriage Enrichment Retreat

Karen and I were with a group of ten couples Crestview Presbyterian Church in Mason-Westchester, Ohio from Friday through Sunday. We had a great time in the Hueston Woods Conference Center Lodge with a Winter Wonderland all around us.

One problem: I couldn't get my Internet to work. However, that was not too bad since I needed a break.
We had a great time. The people were warm, funny, open about their needs and seeking God's help for marriage and family. Pastor Alan Landes and wife Connie along with the Johnsons and Tyrones did a great job of planning.

If your church is not doing much for couples and families, visit Crestview and see what good things they are doing.

Gary Sweeten