Monday, September 28, 2009

Three Doctors Graduating in 1975

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From left to right are Gary sweeten, Dick Towner and Gary Penfield, all getting our Ed. D. Degree the same day in 1975. We worked together under Dr. Bill Nester and we were each involved at College Hill Presbyterian Church.

EMI Anniversary Party

It has been almost thirty years exactly since we officially established Equipping Ministries International as a 501c3 separate from College Hill Presbyterian Church. We had developed the Teleios Center in 1976 and started training people at CHPC in relationships skills. It was not long before some people asked us to teach them how to reproduce our Teleios Ministry so we set up what was to become LIFE Seminars.

All of it came from my Doctoral work and Dissertation at the University of Cincinnati on the topic of the integration of Theology and Psychology and the development of a systematic program to equip the saints in healthy relationship skills.The photo above was taken of Gary Penfield, Dick Towner and me at graduation.

Materials had to be written, invitations sent, fees collected and teachers, organizers and supporters developed. I approached the Trustees of the church to get guidance about copyrights, materials ownership, finances, etc. Tim Johnson reported to me that the Trustees wanted us to set up our own 501c3. We did and it was the beginning of EMI.

In those thirty years EMI has taken the elements of the Teleios Ministry and spread it across the nation and around the world. many para-church groups have sprung up from that effort and EMI has developed ministries in some Seventy nations.

This weekend EMI will celebrate that anniversary and honor many of the founders and early leaders, including me. I left EMI in 1994.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rearing Special Needs Kids

For several months we have been interviewing parents with special needs children about the stresses,strains and pressures of life. They are legion.

That is not surprising. As a father and grand father I know first hand how stressful it is to mom and dad to have the emotional, educational and spiritual responsibility to rear, clothe and feed any kid regardless of their special needs. When a child is born with a serious disability the stresses are multiplied many times over.

That is not surprising but this fact may be. Many of these parents are innovative, creative and resilient to the place where our research team calls them "Heroes!" They are heroic not because it is good thing to do but because they are the best experts their kids have.

Yes, there are fine Doctors, Psychologists, Educators and Physical Therapists but they are usually isolated from the children. Mom, Dad and Siblings as well as family members and friends must come up with practical solutions.

Want to know another secret??? The professionals do not know about the solutions or the problems families face. "Why?" you ask. They ask the parents and do not See the parents as important to the tasks performed by the pros.

We call our project, "It takes a whole village" because rearing a special needs child or caring for a special needs adult requires everybody to pitch in. When I taught school I had special needs kids in my classes. I ignorantly did not even think about the difficulty faced by Mom and Dad. Now I think about it a lot.

Jim Donovan, of Donovan Research, and the Director for our project says, "These families have arrived at solutions to many of the problems they face. However, they are often alone and the solutions have not been well distributed." Sweeten Life Systems is trying to not only discover problems and solutions but discover ways to broadcast those solutions to other families.

One more point. When parents face the fact that their child has special needs they often become increasingly interested in church, religion and spirituality. However, few churches are ready for such a challenge. This leaves the parents isolated and longing for a church that can minister to them.

Pray with us about our next steps in the project "It takes a whole village"(R).

See the web for more information.

Friday, September 25, 2009


One day I dug a little hole
And put my hurt inside
I thought that I could just forget
I'd put it there to hide.

But that little hurt began to grow
I covered it every day
I couldn't leave it and go on
It seemed the price I had to pay.

My joy was gone, my heart was sad
Pain was all I knew.
My wounded soul enveloped me
Loving seemed too hard to do.

One day, while standing by my hole
I cried to God above
And said, "If you are really there
They say, you're a God of Love!

And just like that -- he was right there
And just put his arms around me
He wiped my tears, his hurting child
There was no safer place to be.

I told him all about my hurt
I opened up my heart
He listened to each and every word
To every sordid part.

I dug down deep and got my hurt
I brushed the dirt away
And placed it in the Master's hand
And healing came that day.

He took the blackness of my soul
And set my spirit FREE!
Something beautiful began to grow
Where the hurt used to be.

And when I look at what has grown
Out of my tears and pain
I remember every day to give my hurts to him
And never bury them again.

By Carol Parrot

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Healing Minds/Touching Hearts

I am enjoying the good things happening as we cooperate with Tri-County Assembly of God. Pastor Brad Rosenberg went to Cincinnati Christian with my kids and is now Senior Pastor of one of the most influential congregations in the Tri-State region.

Here is a video on YouTube of a neat program called TCA Hope Fair being held next week. Take a look at it.

Go to TCA's home page to read about a seven week series I will be doing there on Wednesday nights starting in October. We will teach Christians how to "Take every thought captive to the mind of Christ" and put an end to their fears, anxieties, depression and anger. Sign up and attend all the classes you can.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Time With God

I wish I could attend but I am deeply involved in a thirty year reunion party that weekend. "What am I talking about," you ask? One of the famous and fabulous female weekend getaways with God hosted by Judy Haag and her merry band of God Searchers!

Here is the announcement:

What one women says about being at a "A Time of Refreshment" retreat.

There is something very special coming up on Saturday, October 3rd which I think you may want to look into if you have not signed up. I can tell you that when I have participated in
"A Time of Refreshment Retreat" that I have experienced some of the most significant intimacy with our Lord in my life. How can I describe it? Being in God's presence in His beautiful Creation. Slowing down, sitting still and experiencing His love for me personally. Worshipping Him. A day spa for my spirit. None of those phrases can capture it, I suggest you just try it yourself.

There is a time for everything...
But only 10 days left to Register NOW for the
Fall Time of Refreshment Retreat for Women!

You may send us an e-mail to reserve your time and place to be with God at the retreat!

Judy Haag
Spiritual Encouragers of Cincinnati
5091 South Ridge Drive
Cincinnati OH, 45224

Monday, September 21, 2009

Adoption Heroes

My friend Carole Adlard has just been recognized as an "Angel" to many babies in need of a family. Here is her heroic story.

For Immediate Release September 27, 2009

Contact: Congresswoman Jean Schmidt Honors Carole Adlard as an Angel in Adoption™
To Be Recognized at National Event in Washington, DC

Cincinnati, Ohio: September 27, 2009 Congresswoman Jean Schmidt has selected Carole Adlard as a 2009 Angel in AdoptionTM for her outstanding advocacy of adoption issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which orchestrates the Angels in Adoption™ program, will honor Carole Adlard along with more than 190 Angels, at an awards ceremony and gala event in Washington, DC, September 30, 2009.

Carole Adlard is being honored for conducting twenty three years of adoption education. “I felt the adoption process was lacking,” explains Carole Adlard, “ In order to improve the practice of adoption, I formed an adoption educational agency called Adoption Option..” Adoption Option has become a catalyst for a broad array of adoption activities in Southwestern Ohio including, an infant adoption video based curriculum that is used by schools, agencies and pregnancy testing centers throughout the U.S; an adoption mentoring program for unwed pregnant teenagers; adoption mediation program for birth and adoptive parents; a professional adoption education program which educates medical and mental health professionals on how to provide faction adoption information in a non directive ways; an adoption media initiative that conveys accurate adoption information to make communities more adoption literate and adoption friendly. Mrs. Adlard has spoken on adoption in national conferences including National Neonatal, National Infant Adoption, National Right to Life and The Common Ground Network for Life and Choice.

The Angels in Adoption™ program is CCAI’s signature public awareness campaign and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad.

“The Angels in Adoption program is unlike any other program in the Nation’s Capitol. Because of it, over 1400 “Angels’ have come to share with Washington their adoption experience and left with a renewed excitement of all that adoption makes possible,” said Congresswoman Jean Schmidt.“I learned one simple lesson from my time on the hill, knowledge is power. Angels in Adoption is meant to give Members of Congress the knowledge they need to use the power they have toward making the dream of a family a reality for every child.”

In addition to the more than 190 local angels from around the country, several National Angels will also be recognized at the ceremony and gala for their dedication and commitment nationally and internationally to child welfare on a grand scale. Former “National Angels” include First Lady Laura Bush, Patti LaBelle, Jane Seymour, Muhammad Ali, the late Dave Thomas, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bruce Willis, Alonzo Mourning, and Marcus Samuelsson.

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the tens of thousands of orphans and foster children in the United States and the millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes through adoption. CCAI’s goal is the elimination of the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family.

CCAI was created in 2001 by the active co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption (CCA) to more effectively raise Congressional and public awareness about the issue of adoption.

The Angels in Adoption™ program was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign culminating in an extraordinary awards Gala and celebration in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rid Self of Stinking Thinking

Irrational Thinking that leads us to miserable feelings and unreasonable acts are a fact of life. I grew up in an area that prided itself on living in anxiety, fear and misunderstandings, especially in homes and churches.

About thirty years ago Margaret Josephson Rinck and Alice Petersen attended a seminar put on by Dr. Maxie Maultsby, a Plastic Surgeon who turned to Psychiatry because the people he operated on to make more beautiful were as miserable after the surgery as before. He decided that he needed to help miserable people stop making themselves fell so badly and he took up brain studies.

Meg and Alice returned from that workshop all excited about integrating Dr. Maultsby's insights with the Bible and we wrote manuals on the topic and taught hundreds of people how to be "Rational Christians". It was enormously successful.

I preached this morning at Tri-County Assembly of feeling miserable and start feeling joy. The Bible is the very best book of psychology ever written. Psychology means the study of the soul and who better that the One who created our soul to teach us how to heal it and keep it whole? God knows our heart and our soul and wants to replace lies with His truth that will set us free.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How Can Christians Reach Our Neighbors?

For years we have heard about a lot of fancy and complicated ways to win people to Christ. The Four Spiritual Laws are famous as is the phrase used by Dr. James Kennedy to share with Seniors in his Florida community. "If you died tonight what would you say to God to get into heaven?"

The following story is a very interesting approach to witnessing. And, the real work is done from home. PRAYER! Prayer? Yep, prayer.

How is that done? Read this article.

TYPICALLY GOD: Prayer creates openness for gospel

The pastor of a Christian church in Phoenix, Arizona, asked the members of
his church to randomly choose 80 people from the telephone book. He then
asked them to pray for each of the 80 names every day for 90 days. At the
same time, he asked them to choose another 80 names from the telephone book
who were simply laid aside, and nobody prayed for the people. After 90 days, church members called all 160 people and asked them whether they would allow Christians to visit them to pray for them.

"The amazing result," says Alvin Vander Griend, was this: only one person on the list of people who did not receive prayer was prepared to allow Christians to visit, whereas 69 of the 80 people for whom the church members prayed were open to allow Christians to visit. 45 even invited them into their house, offered coffee and named special prayer requests. Prayer was clearly the decisive factor causing these people to open their houses for personal prayer," he says.

Source: Mission America,

Why not try it? God might show up.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Famous Preacher Is Stressed

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. Matthew 13:22

E. Stanley Jones was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 3, 1884. He studied law at City College in Baltimore and then graduated from Asbury College in 1906. He was on the faculty of Asbury College when he was called to missionary service in India in 1907 under the Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

When Dr. Jones first began his work in Indian he was a chronic worrier and collapsed several times from fatigue. His doctor sent him home and he was on bed rest for a year. On his return to Bombay, his anxiety returned.

One night, he wrestled with the Lord and he told the Lord that he had run out of his own resources. The Lord impressed upon Stanley to give his work and his worry to Him.

That night transformed Dr. Jones. He went on to be a successful missionary in India and Japan. He later wrote, "This one thing I know: my life was completely transformed and uplifted that night. When at the depth of my weakness and depression, a voice said to me: 'If you will turn that over to Me and not worry about it, I will take care of it,' and I replied, 'Lord I close the bargain right here.'"

Is worry choking off your walk with the Lord? Today in prayer, give all the worries and concerns of your heart to Christ and He will give you peace.

"The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety." - George Mueller

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Making Every Stressful Thought Peaceful

I am preaching this Sunday at Tri County Assembly of God on Route 4 in Fairfield. The focus will be on kicking off a series of Wednesday evening classes at TCA on Renewing the Mind.

As one of my friends from College Hill Presbyterian Church told me over thirty years ago, "This is what we need to get out of bed every morning."

In my life as a Pastor and Counselor as well as a Parent and partner there has been nothing more important than learning how to renew my mind. At least 95% of the clients I have seen in Therapy over the years could have prevented most of their emotional pain had they learned how to "Capture and Renew Irrational, Toxic Thoughts".

Thousands of people have been through our classes called Rational Christian Thinking or something similar. They are being taught in hundreds of churches and ministries around the earth. The simple truths we teach have liberated the poor, the hungry, the depressed and the addicted from their prisons of pain.


How do you know if you need to make Toxic Thoughts into Peaceful Thoughts? That is easy. If my Self Talk makes me Anxious, Worried, Fearful, Angry, Guilty, Ashamed, Physically Numb, etc I am making myself miserable. Misery of the emotional kind is not healthy, helpful or necessary.

I learned very early in life what making miserable looks like. My Maternal Grand Dad made himself so miserable that he went to bed and stayed there for seven years. I know the process well because I nursed him daily for all seven years and heard him talk himself into misery.

My mother was very much like her father. Her melancholy mind set also tended to make her miserable. That is until she met some young women whose lives had been filled with chaos, abuse and terror but who made the most of things. That caused my mother to change at age 75.

Change is possible! You can choose to feel peaceful even when things are not going well. Pain is inevitable but you can choose not to make you miserable.

Come to the sermon Sunday and then sign up for the seven weeks of fun filled, faith enriched, power thinking classes. You will not regret it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ordinary People Work Miracles

Norman E. Borlaug, the plant scientist who did more than anyone else in the 20th century to teach the world to feed itself and whose work was credited with saving hundreds of millions of lives, died Saturday night. He was 95 and lived in Dallas.
He was widely described as the father of the broad agricultural movement called the Green Revolution, though decidedly reluctant to accept the title. “A miserable term,” he said, characteristically shrugging off any air of self-importance.
Yet his work had a far-reaching impact on the lives of millions of people in developing countries. His breeding of high-yielding crop varieties helped to avert mass famines that were widely predicted in the 1960s, altering the course of history.

Largely because of his work, countries that had been food deficient, like Mexico and India, became self-sufficient in producing cereal grains.

“More than any other single person of this age, he has helped provide bread for a hungry world,” the Nobel committee said in presenting him with the Peace Prize. “We have made this choice in the hope that providing bread will also give the world peace.”

The day the award was announced, Dr. Borlaug, vigorous and slender at 56, was working in a wheat field outside Mexico City when his wife, Margaret, drove up to tell him the news. “Someone’s pulling your leg,” he replied, according to one of his biographers, Leon Hesser. Assured that it was true, he kept on working, saying he would celebrate later.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Truth Sets us Free

I just re-read my last post and asked myself why I get to lathered up when I see what I believe to be hokum, B.S. and distortions of truth. I would like to say that it is because I want to follow Christ as the author of truth but that would be false humility.

It is probably because it is an important part of my temperament. On the Myers-Briggs I am an NT. That means I see things through a prism of iNtuism and apply what I see by analysis and systems' thinking. My whole life I have been drawn to apply analytical reasoning to what I see.

This does not mean that I am always right even though I rarely think otherwise. Just ask my family and friends. In fact, the NT Personality can be summarized as, "Often wrong but never in doubt". I am usually pretty sure that my opinions are correct.

So, when I hear things that seem to me to be bogus, invalid, rumor and based on false assumptions I sometimes react strongly. That is what happened when I read some statements by Left Wing actors and politicians about the towers being dynamited by Mr. Bush so we could go to war with the Muslims.

The entire premise and accusations of the people who claim such a conspiracy theory are like Red Bull drinks. They are stimulants that cause me to really pop off. (I know they do not really MAKE me do anything. I am making myself get frustrated and want to straighten these people out. I would really like to blame these people but I am making myself miserable all on my own.)

So, I am confessing my weaknesses and failures. I admit I get impatient and grouchy with such persons. At those times I do not "FEEL" a liking for them. Please be patient with me; God is not finished with me yet.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Who Destroyed the Twin Towers?

Recently one of President Obama's top advisers, Van Jones, was fired/asked to resign. Van Jones, a supposed graduate of Yale Law School, had done several really stupid things but the most bizarre came into the light when it was discovered that he was one of the many Left Wing Democrats who has pushed the Congress to investigate President Bush. They claim that Mr. Bush had intentionally told the CIA to plant explosives in the Twin Towers so they would explode after being hit by the airplanes.

Anyone with a lick of common sense can see that such a claim is spurious, impossible and dumb. But, the Left Wing Nuts went completely bonkers when Bush was elected and have made and are still making a lot of deranged claims. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama and his team in the White House seem to have bought into the latest evidence of BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) and are persecuting the CIA over other bogus claims.

One of my friends from high school recently posted his belief that Bush was a criminal. He claims that the USA itself blew up the Twin Towers in order to make the Muslims look bad. Below is my response.

Dear Friend:

I flew into New Jersey with The Salvation Army two weeks after the two airplanes hit the twin towers. Our clinic works closely with the Army and they asked us to provide four Clinicians to counsel the first responders who had been on the scene for two weeks and were burned out.

(I assume you do agree that airplanes actually hit the towers? I assume you do agree that Muslims flew the planes and intentionally killed all those people? Or do you think Bush also made that up and got all the TV channels to go along with his plot. That Chaney sure is clever.)

We stayed overnight at the Salvation Army Camp some two hours from Ground Zero. We received FBI clearance after three hours of interrogation and examination by the FBI and received a photo badge. We drove down to Ground Zero through at least five check points. Each and every person in our van had to show his/her badge and it was checked against our driver’s license. It was impossible for anyone to get into Ground Zero and do mischief.

You say that the rubble was very quickly cleaned up before the cops could investigate the crime scene. Baloney! There was no hurried clean up of the rubble. Almost none of the large rubble had been cleaned up by the time we arrived. Why?

Because there were no cranes big enough to lift the very long steel beams. They could not untangle the mess until a crane was brought in from Ohio that was tall enough and strong enough to do the job. It took three days to set up the second largest crane in the world and go to work. Thus, NO hurried clean up. That was impossible.

I was sponsored by the Salvation Army who brought us there from our Counseling Center to provide medical, psychological and spiritual care for the workers, especially the first responders. I worked the night shift with several other people, doctors, psychologists, ministers, etc.

There were hundreds of visiting Cops, FBI, Fire Fighters, EMT’s, Doctors, Nurses, Ministers, Churches, Ministries, who were all around the site. We were some of the very few who had total clearance to go to the morgue, clinics, onto the rubble, etc. The Salvation Army acted as Chaplains when a body part was found. They went out to the smoke filled mess and had a prayer for the person whose remains were found. So, we were up close and very personal so we were on top of anything unusual.

We were there for a week from 1:00 AM until 1:00 PM. We had three tents of food, drinks, clothes, medical supplies and counseling. I walked all over the Ground Zero area. Because I had FBI clearance I could go any place and talk with any one I wanted. And, any one could approach me for counsel, prayer, support and encouragement. I sat and walked all night with Cops and Firefighters.

The fires in the lower levels of the disaster area buildings were still raging that entire week. One night a Fire Captain dropped a thermometer down the hole to get a reading and it was over 2,000 degrees F. There could not have been a hasty clean up with that kind of heat.

I talked with dozens of Fire Fighters, Cops, Steel Workers, FBI Agents, etc. Many of them had brothers, sons, fathers and friends under the rubble. They were frantic to recover them. Had anyone attempted to pull a cover up it would have started a riot. One Fire Chief lost two sons, as I remember. Do you think he would pull a cover up? He, and many others, were all over that steel when the heat and smoke allowed. If they had suspected any kind of set up they would have screamed to high heaven.

These men are experts in fires, types of burns, explosives, etc. They know their stuff. If they had spotted any kind of issues they would not have kept silent. There was a huge fight between the Cops and Fire Fighters. I heard about it in confidential conversations. After almost three weeks of “Search and Rescue” with the Fire Department in charge of searching for survivors, the Mayor changed the code to “Recovery” which meant that there were no survivors so it became a crime scene with the Police Department in charge. When the Cops came in to take charge the Fire Fighters were enraged to lose control and they had a riot.

Does that sound like a cover up by men who were not interested in finding everything they could?

You say people heard pops as the floors fell. Of course they did. the noise was terrible. The pop, pop, pop sounds came from the steel struts popping loose as each floor fell.

The most amazing thing I saw in that place was the total pulverization of everything in those two buildings. There were no bodies, no computers, no chairs, no desks, no carpet, no lights, nothing that would indicate that these two buildings of a hundred stories each had anyone or anything in them.

My final word on these conspiracy theories is:“Take your anti-psychotic medicines and stop all those voices you are hearing.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Day Terror Came to America

On the day of the attacks I was in Virginia Beach getting ready to speak to a group of Professors and Deans at Regent University. I was going to talk about the power of God's love, truth and power to bring healing.

I had been there for several days teaching at Kempsville Presbyterian Church for my friend Richard Kidd. (Who is now on the Sweeten Life Board.)I was staying with John and LaRose Allman, two of God's most faithful followers and wonderful Teleios Teachers. On 9/10 John took me to the Naval Base where he had served for years as a Commander. That base is the largest military base in the world. I saw flat tops,
subs, destroyers, battleships, etc. The might and fire power of that place was amazing.

Early the next morning they took me to CBN/Regent and Richard and I sat in the Dean's Office waiting for the time to teach. We heard a shout from his office and call to come in quickly and see what was happening. We rushed in a saw the results of the deadly, heinous attack.

We all soon went up to the class room and began to discuss Christian Counseling. Before too long, however, a student came in and said another plane had hit the other tower. The University was closed and we all went our ways in anxiety, fear and trepidation. What was happening? My flight home was cancelled and I was stuck in Virginia. I returned to the Allman home and we prayed.

It was obvious that might alone was not enough. If it were the Brits would have won and the Colonies would still be driving on the left side of the road. All that military might was useless. We needed a new way to wage war. New ways to prevent attacks. New ways to get information. The evil forces that led the attacks will stop at nothing. What should we do, we asked each other.

Remember The Victims

Dr. Carol at the Medical Tent. She cared for a lot of people.

Carla and I are standing next to a mural of the Towers in one of the fifty story buildings down the street from Ground Zero. From the top of that building we could see first hand the rubble, destruction and chaos that was the result of the terrorist attacks.

I wept this morning while listening to the radio. I returned emotionally to that day and those weeks eight years ago. How do you feel?

I was there. In person, two weeks after the attacks. The Salvation Army asked Life Way Counseling to provide four Therapists to fly to New York so we could set up a Counseling and Pastoral Care Station for the first responders. We gave out food, clothing, drinks, medical care and TLC.

We met the first responders and listened to their pain, grief and sorrow. It was a privilege and a traumatic time for me but nothing like what was happening to the first responders who were looking desperately for friends and family members.

Carla and I were on from 1:00 AM until 1:00 PM for a week. The Cops and Fire fighters had been up for two weeks with no rest. I was able to listen to them, pray for them and encourage them. Some had break downs because the grief brought back so many old trauma memories. PTSD can last a long time.

911 Personal Memories

It is almost 12:30 AM on 9/11/09. It is the anniversary of one of the most surprising and traumatic days in our nation's history. I still get quesy when i think about it.

Two weeks after 911 Life Way Counseling Centers was approached by The Salvation Army about the possibility of sending a team of four people to Ground Zero to minister to the First Responders who had been working almost around the clock for some 14 days.

They were burned out, traumatized and depressed. It was becoming obvious that they were no longer in a Rescue Operation but needed to move to a Recovery of Bodies Operation. This increased the grief, frustration and despair of the men and women who were digging desperately through the rubble of destruction all over Ground Zero.

To make matters worse, the sub basements of the buildings were still on fire. each day a fire chief came out to the area and let down a rope that had a thermometer attached to it. One day he remarked to us that the heat was over 1800 degrees. No one could have survived that.

The smell of dust, death and disaster hung like a gray cloud over the region.

We stayed there for a week. My shift was from 1:00 AM until 1:00 PM in the afternoon. It did not take long for us to also get overwhelmed with the pain, the disaster and the human suffering.

May God grant us His peace on this anniversary.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Missional Churches

Are you missional? Is your church missional? Do you know what being missional really means? I can't give a great meaning of missional but here is my understanding.

When I went to Africa in 1983 to attend a large conference for "Leaders of Leaders" I was able to see first hand the power of Revival. European Missionaries had gone to Africa and preached the good news and God answered their prayers and blessed their efforts. For sixty or so years there was great, Holy Spirit Revival in the East African Nations.

Over fifty million people came to know Christ as Savior. So many came to faith that buildings would not hold them and there were not nearly enough Pastors to teach them God's word and God's ways. Congregations met under trees and called people to worship with drums. I preached there and was truly blessed. they begged me to return and train leaders.

After spending two weeks in Kenya I returned to England where I stayed in a college house with students at Oxford. The church buildings were large, impressive and largely dead. I went from a lively, thriving and dynamic church to a church museum. The people who took the gospel to African had left a shell back home.

Several English Missionaries came back to England to retire and saw the same thing I saw. They immediately recognized that the churches in England needed to gear up to reach the English home front just as they had reached the English Commonwealth decades earlier. They began to speak and write about the need for church leaders to reach out with a missionary zeal to the unsaved at home. They needed to become, MISSIONAL.

This is also true of the churches in America. Reaching out to men and women, boys and girls with the good news is essential to our spiritual, mental and emotional health as well as the eternal life of Americans.

More people come to faith in Christ from the children and youth groups than from outside the church. We must not fail to preach to those in the membership and in our neighborhoods.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Predictions of Today's Marriages

This photo is of one famous man's wife and mistress.

July 22, 2009

Today's marriages as predicted 40 years ago
The wedding season is upon us. It runs from spring to late autumn. It's anybody's guess how many weddings occurred just this last weekend.
Today's weddings occur in a sociological atmosphere quite different from that of a couple's parents and grandparents.
The current atmosphere we've collectively spawned over the years is no friend of the newly married, or long-married for that matter. Didn't we ever see where we were going?

Someone did.

In 1970 an interesting book, "Future Shock," was written by Alvin Toffler. He was a sociology professor at Cornell University who conducted research into future value systems.

From this research he predicted what our culture could expect in the fast-arriving future and how it would affect our lives. He showed how we were fast forming a "throw-away" society.

This, in turn, would lead us to adopt a concept of transience, a new "temporariness" in everyday life as well as a mood of impermanence. This Age of Transience would soon affect our relationship with people, but also our attitude toward things, places, ideas, as well as toward institutions and organizations.

He wrote, "The people of the future will live in a condition of 'high transience' - a condition in which the duration of relationships is cut short ... things, places, people, ideas, and organizational structures will all get 'used up' more quickly." Permanent commitment to anything would become passé.

Before most of last week's brides and grooms were even born, Toffler predicted that success in the marriage of the future would come to be determined by the degree to which matched development actually occurs between spouses.

Love would be determined by the degree of shared growth, not necessarily by the giving of self.

Yet, he goes on to say, "The mathematical odds are heavily stacked against any couple achieving this ideal of parallel growth. The odds plummet when the rate of change in a society accelerates, as it is now doing. In a fast-moving society in which ... the family is again and again torn loose from home and community, in which individuals move further from their parents, further from the religion of origin, and further from traditional values, it is almost miraculous if two people develop at anything like comparable rates."

Dire words!

And now, almost 40 years later, our own observations bear him out. Human relationships have become more transient and the development of genuine love more tenuous. Love is now sought in serial marriages or clandestine affairs.

In 1970 Toffler claimed that in the future those who marry will have an average of three marriages in their lifetime: the first for the expression of sexuality; the second for procreating children; and the third for companionship.

"There will be some," he predicted, "who, through luck, interpersonal skill and high intelligence, will find it possible to make long-lasting monogamous marriages work. Some will succeed in marrying for life and finding durable love and affection. But the others will fail to make even sequential marriages endure for long."

My dear brides and grooms, isn't it remarkably sad that what was predicted 39 years ago has now become true?

May your marriage be counter-culture, your commitment permanent, your love enduring. And may your children find in your relationship an inspiration for their own.

Father Lou Guntzelman is a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Reach him at or contact him directly at P.O. Box 428541, Cincinnati, OH 45242. Please include a mailing address or fax number if you wish for him to respond.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Race, Religion and Redemption

The term for salvation in Greek is sozo and it is used to denote many things having to do with God's power to bring His people into wholeness. For example, it is used to focus on coming to Christ as our Savior when we are born again. I was reared in a society that asked people, "When were you saved?" and we did not mean when were you pulled from a raging river but when were you saved from the Devil?

It can also be used to indicate healing. We know that being a Christian and attending church services regularly can lead to a healthier and longer life. This is especially true for African Americans. Blocking African Americans from church could be considered a lethal act.

According to polls a whopping majority of over 80% of us come from a Christian tradition. About 42% of Americans attend religious/church services weekly. This is far more than those who attend all professional sports in an entire year.

Some 95% of Americans believe in God. In 1985 George Gallup found that 72% stated: "My whole approach to life is based on my religion." We are the most religious western nation by far. This is especially shocking when we realize that the country is divided almost 50/50 in politics. America, for all her weaknesses, is a religious nation. As one wag noted, ”India is the most religious country in the world and Sweden the least. America is a bunch of Indians ruled by Swedes.”

Research shows that 91% of blacks, 93% of Hispanics and 88% of whites report a religious affiliation. Even more startling is the number for regular attendance: 51% of blacks, 48% of Hispanics and 43% of whites attend services weekly or more often.
Sixty four percent (64%) of blacks in the national sample were members of religious communities (churches) with 59% of whites and 43% of Hispanics.

Participation in religious activities outside weekend services is also high with 47% blacks, 41% whites and 31% Hispanics saying they are in church during the week as well as on Sunday.Social Capital

In a nation obsessed with racial and cultural diversity the facts about minorities and religious faith have been strangely absent from the dialogue. There is one astounding statistic about African American longevity and church attendance that is rarely if ever mentioned in the debates about faith based organizations and health care. An article by Hummer et al in Demography Journal, 36:273-285 in 1999, Blacks who attend church live much longer than those who do not.

Never Attend Whites-77 Years--Blacks 67 = A 10 year difference
Less than weekly-weekly--Whites 80 Years--Blacks 75=5 years
Weekly or more Whites--83 Years--Blacks--80 = 3 years

Whites who attend services more than weekly gain an average of six years in longevity but African Americans who attend services weekly or more gain a whopping 13 years in life expectancy. Their difference in longevity is almost eclipsed by church attendance. In fact, when Blacks attend church more often than weekly it raises their life expectancy to that of whites who attend weekly or less.

It is also a historic fact that the Abolitionist Movement to free slaves in this country originated largely in Christian churches and revival meetings. Despite the strong resistance of many rich and powerful church leaders those who were revived in the Spirit placed their lives, church membership and treasure at risk when they insisted on offering freedom to those in bondage. No wonder so many African Americans are involved in Christian ministries. The benefits are overwhelmingly positive.