Monday, March 30, 2009

Prayer is Good for Us

Two researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found data that supports what we who believe experience daily, God is good. No wonder we call it "Good News".

Way back in the Seventies I started studying the relationship between health and faith. Now, modern research methods have allowed us to see that being spiritual adds more to longevity than exercise and many other health building activities.

Go to my web site and buy my books for more good stuff.

Gary Sweeten

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Oama and Non Profits

Will Obama kill charities? Maybe. His drive to tax high income eraners and reduce tax deductions looks pretty ominous. Take a look at the analysis of Dick Morris.



Published on on March 28, 2009

President Obama's glib assertion that his reduction in tax deductions will not reduce donations is absurd. His pathetic defense at his press conference - that he would still give a $100 dollar check to charity even if he only got $11 less of tax deduction from it was both disingenuous and beside the point.

And his comment that his reduced deduction would only impact one or two percent of the nation misses the point that it is these folks who are doing almost half of the donating.

In 2006, the most recent year for which data is available, four million taxpayers had adjusted gross incomes of $200,000 or more. They comprised 3% of the tax returns, made 31% of the income, but donated 44% of all charitable contributions. Together, they provided charity with $81 billion in that year.

Obama's plan will cost them $10 billion in extra taxes on the income they allocated to charitable donations. How can the president be so glibly certain that they will not curtail their charitable contributions by a like amount or even more?

Imagine all the harm Obama's program will cause. Churches will be hit most hard. They account for the largest share of charitable donations, but universities, disease research, hospitals, soup kitchens, and cultural institutions will also be hard hit. So will international relief efforts that funnel aid abroad through churches or directly.

It is totally dishonest for Obama to pretend that his curtailment of these deductions won't hurt the poor. It will most directly impact them since most of the charities Obama is hurting focus on helping the impoverished.

This proposal is not about saving money. It is about controlling it. By, in effect, transferring at least $11 billion a year from private philanthropy to government spending, Obama empowers the public sector at the expense of the voluntary one.

President Obama's recommended reduction in the tax deduction for charitable giving reflects his fundamental belief that only the government can or should help the poor. He wants to keep the impoverished directly dependent on the government - and the Democratic Party - for their daily bread.

The voluntary sector has always been the backbone of compassion in the United States. Our charitable donations dwarf those of any other country. And our system of tax deductions for giving permits us to decide what charities are worthy of our generosity - a decision Obama will transfer to the politicians under his program.

Go to to read all of Dick's columns!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Preaching the gospel in Denmark is difficult. Well, not the preaching but the responses are low and church attendance is very low. The State Church in Denmark is Lutheran and I now know why our founders made sure we in American escaped from the horror of a state supported church.

But here is the good news. Creative and innovative church planters have discovered that many of the new immigrants to Denmark are very open to the good news. Over 450,000 new churches have been planted in Denmark in the past decade.

One of the reasons why our ministry of equipping is so critical in Europe lies here. They Christ Followers need good ministry skills and the new church leaders are under trained in practical skills of ministry. Please pray for a revival in Europe. There are more witches there than in Africa.

Gry Sweeten

Heart and Soul in Witnessing

I wrote a few posts ago about the technical brilliance and the soullessness of much of modern life. While in Norway and Denmark I saw the advance of social and politics that makes sure people live in relative comfort. They call it "A guaranteed quality of life." Scandinavia is the model for Liberals in the USA and we are headed rapidly in that direction.

The problem with such an ideal is the lack of initiative taken by ordinary people to innovate, relate with love and care to each other in a deep manner. It is easier to let the government take care of our problem and problem people. But that does not work very well. People with psychological and relational pain need love, care, kindness and sharing in a community not just pills and a psychiatric hospital staffed by bureaucrats.

It also means that witnessing is frowned upon. So most Christ Followers find it increasingly difficult to share their faith in Jesus. That is way too personal, emotional and agressive.

My seminar in Norway was held in a four star summer resort on the sea. Being winter, the rates with a meter of snow on the ground were low. Some thirty of us came together to grow deeper into personal relationship with God, self and others.

The staff at the resort were attentive and professional.

During one of my sessions on developing personal relationships with others I suggested that building caring relationships is most effective way to witness about Christ's love. I finished the session by asking how many of them knew the names of our servers and if any had spoken to them personally in the first two days of our visit. Few raised their hands.

I had suggested that the Jesus Model as presented in Luke 10 is a great evangelistic model. It tells us to bless people with peace as we go about our business. Then, we are to observe on whom that peace rests because that would alert us to the persons that were interested in Christ.

The group took the hint and thereafter became warmly inviting to the staff. One woman was fluent in Russian and discovered that two of the staff were from the former USSR. They chatted in Russian and the smiles were wide on their beaming faces.

One man asked how he might pray for a waitress and she burst into tears. She later asked him to pray that she would overcome her fear of males so she could develop a healthy relationship with a man.

A Pastor discovered that one of the wait staff was from his hometown and shared his unique way of speaking. They spent hours together reminiscing about the "old days" in the village.

In a few days this caring, Evangelical group of turned on, Spirit filled men and women discovered voices of compassion. They overcame the natural "Scandinavian Shyness" and showed strangers the love and concern of Jesus .

Two other groups were also having conferences at the hotel. They were loud, drunken and having a lot of "fun". The differences between them and us were obvious. We chatted with each other and the staff with warmth, empathy and respect. Some responded back with requests for prayer and understanding their loneliness. Even though sober we had more joy.

Take a look at how powerful respect, love, understanding and warmth can be, even to an atheist.

Gary Sweeten

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Recession: What is God Up To?

Does God have a plan for the recession? I sure hope so because what I see coming from Washington, D.C. is not very comforting.

For most of the history of the world recession has been the constant and chronic situation. Well, not exactly recession but a full fledged DEPRESSION. It has only been in the recent past when Western Europe and the USA have been able to feed, clothe and house its citizens in a way that was safe, warm and adequate.

The Western or Christian World of Democracy is the first time in history that governments were concerned about providing a majority of its citizens with food, clothing and shelter. Slavery, poverty and rapacious leadership have been the order of the day. Thank God, with the rise of Christianity and Bible knowledge we have seen governments in the west act with some benevolence toward its citizens.

So, what is a godly plan now for our Western, Christianized leadership? I am not sure, but a the least we need to pray for our leaders and pray for Christians to respond to hurting folks in a compassionate and caring manner.

When we read the Bible it is clear that Christians lived under extremely difficult circumstances during those early days. It is also clear that other Christians, although in poverty themselves, sent financial relief to their brothers and sisters.

We in America are facing hard times but our brothers and sisters around the world are REALLY in trouble. So, what would God have us do? Step up our support for missions around the world. For example, Pastor Rich Femia just returned from Romania and I was in Russia last fall. Both countries had so very little even in prosperous times. Now the situation is critical. Older people are even starving.

Can we sit by in our beautiful houses and churches while brothers and sisters suffer? What should be our response

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Preventing AIDS

In one of the best articles I have read about this subject, Christianity Today, tells about how one of the most important AIDS experts in the world supports monogamy and other faith based ways to prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa.

I hope you will read the article and report it widely among the media.

Gary Sweeten

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Liberating Poor People

Poverty is not the problem, poor people are the problem. I grew up poor and my battle to be well off was mainly with myself, not someone else.

First, I had to be changed on the inside. I was similar to many of my adolescent friends in that I was crazy about the things that kept me poor. Sex, alcohol, fast cars and running around like a Tom Cat. I was not interested in books, classes and paying attention, let alone hard work. I always laughed at the joke that I had an allergy problem. I was allergic to hard work.

But God intervened and knocked me off the horse I was riding furiously toward Sodom and Gomorrah and got my attention. He said loudly and directly, "Choose this day whom you will serve." The only possible answer had to be, "You Lord, have the answers to life."

Shortly afterward God had an even bigger surprise for me by telling me to quit my factory job at Dowzer Electric where I repaired transformers so I could sign up to attend college. Wow! that was a shocker.

So, the two keys to leaving poverty were a changed life and attendance at college. I stopped drinking and carousing and did very well in college. I learned that I had some ability to think, do my lessons and enjoy a clean and sober life. After those insights financial health was easy.

There is no mystery to wealth. Self discipline, hard work, education and saving your money. Simple but not easy in this super heated environment of addictive buying.

I do believe that knowing Jesus brings to most an abundant life of health, wealth and wisdom. But not by helping them reap without sowing or winning the lottery. Life within limits and without the pretensions of ego and anyone can become well off.

I had the advantage of two great parents and some wonderful grand parents who helped me, taught me and trained me to treat others well while working hard and investing in good things. The great barrier to wealth and health is a single parent home. Men acting like Tom Cats and impregnating women with no intention of caring for their offspring. These men ought to be roundly condemned not supported by public figures.

Marriage of one man to one woman for one life is the healthiest norm there is for a good life. It is not something that requires brilliance or luck. Just a godly change and self discipline.

Gary Sweeten

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Defeating Poverty

There is a new book on defeating poverty in Africa and it is a shocker in its conclusions about the one trillion dollars spent in Africa in past attempts to bring that tragic continent out of disaster.

According to a Zambian woman who formerly worked with the World Bank, many of the good intentions and money have not helped Africa or Africans. In fact, the money has been the problem.

Go to the Wall Street Journal for a fascinating review of the book Dambisa Moyo.

All Materialsm-No Heart

I am in my second week among the Socialist Scandinavians and have some reflections. First, living here is comfortable. Everything that the government does is designed to make sure that the streets, public services and environment are clean, tidy and orderly. The trains run on time and many creature comforts are available to the masses.

There are few material differences between the rich and poor. Most homes are the same size small apartments and most cars are newer models from Japan and Germany or Sweden. Most people dress informally in jeans and few seem obviously poor.

Young people are placed in clean, orderly schools and old people into clean orderly retirement homes. Not many people seem to work hard or break a sweat about anything.

The pay is low and the taxes are high. Good producers are punished with even higher taxes so no matter how smart, how clever or successful you are the government makes sure you do not have much conspicuous wealth.

Everyone pays at least 40% taxes to the Federal Government. Then, everyone pays 25% Value Added Tax or VAT on everything that is purchased. A Coke is about $3.00 as is a bottle of water and 25% of that is tax. So, poor people must pay 1/4 of their income on sales' tax when they purchase food, clothing, train tickets, etc.

Is this the future of America? Probably. It seems to have created a huge "leisure class" of bored, tired, robots with little excitement, drive or energy. People are isolated from close interaction and the secular humanistic ideals do not seem to lead people to lives of anything but quite desperation.

Few are involved in caring for others of caring for anything outside themselves. Selfishness and narcissism are rampant and many are bored with too much stuff. I am constantly reminded of the passage that says, "Give and it shall be given unto you; pressed down, shaken together and placed into your lap."

Many of the older, retired pensioners are engaging in drunken orgies with films of themselves on Facebook throwing up and having sex. Anything for a momentary thrill to break out of boredom.

The last part of I CO 13 ends like this: "These three remain; faith, hope and love and the greatest is love."

Here it seems to be: "Faith in the government, hope that the economy stays strong and love the technology".

This society might be summarized as "Clean, orderly and technically healthy with no heart, no soul and no love". Thank God the committed Christians here are praying, witnessing and reaching out to others to they can find a reason to live for something other than food, clothing, shelter and public transportation.

Gary Sweeten
Randers, Denmark

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No Job? You Can Volunteer

The Wall Street Journal has an article today on the importance of laid off workers staying involved by volunteering at non-profits. Sweeten Life Systems is, of course, a 501c3 not for profit organization recognized by the IRS and Ohio Attorney General.

Volunteer jobs are catching on among the growing ranks of laid-off workers, giving them valuable career experience and offering strapped nonprofits access to a bigger talent pool.

Charitable organizations say they are benefiting from a class of skilled volunteers ready to lend their expertise to a cause. And volunteering is giving out-of-work professionals the opportunity to develop skills, as well as network for job contacts in the process. For some people, it may even mean a new career when the economy does turn around.

We have some important things cooking that you might be able to help us with. Write me at if interested.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Go Into all the World

The Vicar of Vincennes, or Vicksburg or Vernon, made a great comment on my last post. I agree with it whole heartedly.

Today, Jens-Petter, Peder Paulsen and I did a short seminar of this topic, "The Church as an Equipping, Healing Community. We gathered with fifty or so saints at Karlslunde Lutheran Church just outside Copenhagen where I have been many times before. It is the "Mother Church" for the Holy Spirit Renewal" in Denmark and many great things have been birthed there that have touched thousands around the world.

Teleios Denmark is centered at Karlslunde Church and hundreds of leaderds have taken my training in Listening, Renewed Thinking, Breaking Free from the Past, etc. Jens-Petter and I stayed wikth Gina, a lady whose spiritual journey and growth has touched so many, including her son and daughter who are key leaders in taking God's love, truth and power to others.

Kirsten Callensen, Gina's daughter, has taken Listening and RCT into her professional work as a Psychologist that works with families touched by Autism and Aspergers. Kirsten is doing some extremely creative and significant work by bringing a combination of Psychological, Medical, Theological and Spiritual wisdom and knowledge together.

Kirsten's work is in the Government's clinics and private clinics. It is not openely "Christian" but she is using her time, talents and gifts to bring healing to these stressed out families. Read Luke 10 and see if you can find room for Kirsten's "Secular" ministry in the charge of Jesus to the disciples.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I have been in some type of healing activity for many years. During that time I have helped others get better even though sickness and pain have been my personal friend.

Several times I was counseling a person in depression while struggling myself with a deep melancholy. Interestingly enough my ability to focus on helping another person in pain also helped give me some relief.

For the past few months I have experienced pain in both shoulders. It has been difficult to raise my right arm above my head at times and that is frustrating. I asked for prayers from the good people at Dwelling Place Church in February and experienced some relief.

Because I was heading for Scandinavia with luggage it occurred to me that I needed to seek some assistance from Dr. Mark Korchok, a great Chiropractor near my home. After several sessions my shoulders are better but not pain free.

I am staying in the home of Jens-Petter and Astrid Jorgensen in Oslo and sleeping in the bed of their daughter Marie Theresa who is away at school. After spending a couple of nights here, my shoulder is substantially better. I am very thankful for prayers, Dr. Korchok and this good bed.

So here are the questions: "How does God heal" and "Is relief from a good night's sleep count as one way God heals?"

Secular Humanists do not believe in God so they cannot believe in a God who heals. It is said that an atheist believes in "The uniformity of natural causes in a CLOSED SYSTEM". I believe in the "Uniformity of natural causes and cures in an OPEN, GOD-SOAKED SYSTEM".

Here is the difference. Humanists discount any intervention into nature from outside the natural order. We Christians believe in a natural order that God can and often does interact with. My shoulder was damaged by some of my behavior and nature took its course and the pain alerted me to the damage I had caused myself. I have sought several "remedies from nature" such as pain medications and Chiropractic interventions. They have helped.

I also sought supernatural interventions through prayer. It also helped. This is not an "either-or dichotomy" but a "both-and unity". God gave the Hebrew people many different natural interventions stop the spread of communicable diseases. He was the first chemist in history and his advice saved thousands of lives. God created nature so why would He be hostile to its healing properties?

May God bless you and your Christian community as you seek to live under Hios rule and reign. I sometimes read that the modern church has lost its way when there is an emphasis upon being a "Therapeutic Community". The root words for salvation and therapy are similar. Let us go into the world as agents of salvation, healing and good works.

For more on the ways we foster healing, growth and health, see our web page.

Gary Sweeten

Saturday, March 14, 2009


In the Bible we are encouraged to "Speak the truth in love." That is a beautiful phrase with a wonderfully nuanced message that has power to change us. If we follow it, the message also has the power to change others.

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
George Orwell

Friday, March 13, 2009

Obama's Disgraceful Actions

President Obama just acted to remove all ethical and moral considerations from stem cell research. It is one of the things he and other Democrats promised and they are continuing to claim it is "A return to science over ideology". That claim is a lie and worse. It attacks President Bush for his careful and studied approach to stem cell research and reinforced the lie that such research and cloning can be carried out with no ethical concerns.

I hope you will read the article of Charles Krauthammer in the most recent Washington Post. He brilliantly reveals the despicable approach of Obama and unveils his deceptions.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Equipping Volunteers to Help

I just taught a group of thirty Christian leaders today about the importance of getting themselves and others ready to minister with love. Here is a very brief summary.

The acrostic that serves as a foundation for helping others can be seen in the word GREW.

Genuineness-This requires us to know ourselves and what motivates us to help others. I did an Doctorate in Counselor Education in 1975. My research showed me that the key to helping others was no my knowledge or beautiful advices but how I treated them when we interacted. In order for me to build trust and open communication, I had to come across as a real person not a fake.

Genuineness means that:

I know my own thoughts and feelings
I can name my thoughts and feelings
I can manage my thoughts and feelings
I can share my thoughts and feelings

So, if I am nervous when I talk with others I need to recognize the feelings and know from where they arise in my thought promise. I cannot be very helpful unless I am aware of my onw needs and temptations.

It has been my personal experience that 75% or more of the men and women who want to be trained as Helpers do so because of fleshly, selfishly drives. Unless the training helps students understand the genesis of those selfish desires, the Helper will spread more trouble rather than facilitate health. (See my web page for more information.)

Gary Sweeten
Enjoying the frozen beaches of Tjome, Norway

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Back to Norway

I left Cincinnati Sunday night and arrived in Oslo through Paris on Monday. The Charles Degaulle Airport in Paris is cold, uncomfortable and crowded, to say nothing of very expensive. I could have paid about $8.00 for a cup of coffee but saw that coffee and a sandwich and a brownie were only $13.50 so I went the cheap route.

But I arrived safely in Gardemone Airport and Jens-Petter was there to offer his care and support. My jet lag is not bad at all and the Jorgensen's bed is terrific. Thanks to Marie Theresa who is studying in Barcelona.

We went to the Parliment yesterday with a personal tour led by Dagfinn Hoybroten, head of the Christian Democrat Party. Dagfinn and wife Joren spoke at our first Significance Center Kickoff last summer.

I speak tomorrow, Friday and Saturday on: A lifetime of great relationships". I am excited to be back with the people I respect and love.

It is late and I am tired.

Gary Sweeten

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Mrs. Clinton's Miscues

I have done a lot of international travel and training. This means I have made many mistakes over the years when I tried to say or do something in the language and traditions of my host. It is embarrassing to flub a term or do something that is vulgar or offensive and you only find out later what you did.

Mrs. Clinton, the new Secretary of State under President Obama, has already flubbed her lines on several occasions and she has not been in office that long. In some ways I am glad she and other top officials often open mouth and insert foot. It makes my mistakes seem petty in comparison.

Recently Mrs. Clinton visited Russia and gave the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a made up copy of the famous RED BUTTON only used by Russian and US Presidents when nuclear war is threatened. Here is the rub, the State Department misspelled the key word for "reset" that Madam Secretary Clinton was using to make the point that the old regime is gone and a new day has arrived.

Instead of the Russian word for "reset" (perezagruzka) the button featured a slightly different word meaning "overload" or "overcharged" (peregruzka). The Russian media made light of the slight and Mrs. Clinton recovered nicely. However, it is getting off on the wrong foot when the State Department does not have anyone who knows Russian well enough to see the mistake.

I am off to Norway and Denmark Sunday and will not return until March 19. I am hoping and praying that in my fortieth or so visit to these nations that I will be more successful than Mrs. Clinton.

Please pray for my trips and my teachings. I will be teaching several times over the ten days and meet with old friends and Christian leaders. My friends in Scandinavia have taken our model and skills and implemented them wonderfully in a variety of settings. I am excited to reconnect with them and see what God is up to now.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Russian Situation

I heard from our friends in Russia and discovered that they will not have to leave their rented office space immediately.

Please pray for God's wisdom, guidance and a free space.

Go to the Liferoute web for more information.

Marital Stress Kills

An article recently published on the BBC Website says that:

Women are more likely than men to suffer damage to their health from being in a strained marriage, research suggests.

Men may be so out of touch with themselves and the state of their marriage that they don't get as stressed.

Maybe this is why over 90% of the people looking for help in mmarriage and family life are women.

Go to LifeWay Counseling Centers to save your marriage and save yourself.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

My Letter to a Friend

My old time friend from the Jesus Movement, Michael Cristiani, is a compassionate Believer who feels the hurts and pains of people in need. He often writes about our Christian responsibility to care for the hurting among us. Below is a note I sent to him tonight in response to an article he sent me.

My response to Michael is partially in response to an article I read by Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action. Ron is a wonderful man who has worked to help the poor for generations. He believes strongly that high earners should be taxed at very high rates to give directly to the poor. He calls it "biblical justice" but I call it "forced charity" which is not charity at all.

Dear Michael,

It seems to me that the very worst thing a government can do is to give direct payments to poor people without also interacting with them in an up building manner. For over forty years I have tried to help the poor, the broken hearted and downtrodden. I learned very early in the process that poor people are of two types. The situation ally poor and the chronically poor.

We can assist the person with money who is poor because of sickness, job loss or a weather catastrophe. However, the chronically poor ought not receive direct payments from taxpayers. They must also have someone work with them to teach them better living and financial habits. Otherwise they will not be able to alter their lifestyle and, as Jesus said, "You will always have them with you".

This is the same with an addict. Direct aid to an addict moves them deeper into the addiction. They will simply ingest more of the toxic substance. Change from addiction to sobriety can rarely be achieved unless loving persons enter into the world of the addict and walk with them through the pain of recovery. This is also true of the chronically poor.

When we over function for the poor, the addicted or the under performing we condemn them to further pain. The current Obama Socialism approach to helping the poor is poorly conceived and will move poor people further into poverty. Placing higher taxes on workers to pay the poor directly is stealing from the productive to place higher burdens on the unproductive chronically poor.

IWW. (It Won't Work!)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Read Guy Kawasaki's speech at the NAIS web.

Guy is a fantastically talented innovator who helped Apple Computer develop its verve and beauty.

Love Thyself

An old friend from several years ago found my email address and sent me his as well as the address of his blogs. Dan Gilliam is an interesting man with sensitive spiritual insights and he writes them well.

Dan recently quoted Thomas Merton on his blog.

To live well myself is my first and essential contribution to the well-being of all mankind and to the fulfillment of man's collective destiny. If I do not live happily myself how can I help anyone else to be happy, or free, or wise? Yet to seek happiness is not to live happily. Perhaps it is more true to say that one finds happiness by not seeking it. The wisdom that teaches us deliberately to restrain our desire for happiness enables us to discover that we are already happy without realizing it.
Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 81

I like this quote and do not remember ever seeing it before. He is saying something about life and helping that I started glimpsing back in the late Seventies when we began a serious attempt at Equipping the saints to DO the works of the ministry. EPH 4:11

Over time we discovered that 75 to 85% of our student Helpers were really there to get personal healing. The embarrassment of asking for help themselves was too much to admit so they showed up to counsel other people.

We always tried to say that the most important thing was to know, understand and get along with our self. No matter how hard we tried the students ended up being frustrated with us because we failed to teach them how to "sock it to the people in need".

Let's face it. Most people are completely confused about the nature of Helping/Counseling/ and pastoral care. They think it is little more than preaching, teaching and advising people on a one-to-one basis. Whenever a fledgling Helper tells me what they are doing the story is nearly always about the story teller, the Helper not the Seeker. "I said to him, (blah, blah, blah.) But he wouldn't listen to me.

Many of us are secret control freaks. We enter the Helping process as professionals or volunteers with a hidden desire to tell people what to do. Maybe we try to lecture them on happiness but until we relinquish our desire for control to God we can't even tell ourselves how to be happy, let along another person.

Re-read that statement by Thomas Merton. It's pretty profound.