Friday, October 30, 2009

Seasoned Believers Discerning the Times

Revival Camp Meeting Time

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Billy Graham Association's Leader Declines Pay

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

By Noelle Barton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think about this story?

Saying No!

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

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

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

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

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

"Explain that a bit more," I said.

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What I have Learned about Healing in 30 Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Welcoming Old Friends to the EMI Homecoming


Lois Dunn Welcomes

Lillian Rumford Welcomes


Betty Reid Welcomes
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Welcome to the Marriott

International Partners for Wholeness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweeten Life Systems

Old Friends Meet Again at EMI Banquet


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

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

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

Tipping Points

Sometimes silence is not only golden it is also wise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instead, he inadvertently opened the Berlin Wall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A New Way of Thinking

Is it possible for me to please God and do His will without renewing my mind? In retrospect, I thought I could be a pretty good Christian with my own mind. I had never heard that I needed a new mind and a new way of thinking when I was a young Believer. I was, in fact, a very arrogant person who was convinced that my thinking and approach to life was just fine, thank you very much.

Today, however, I see that my mind was filled with distortions, misunderstandings and bad theology. I know that bad theology leads to a dysfunctional lifestyle and poor emotional/spiritual health. No wonder the Lord wanted me to alter my thinking and repent! Those old habits got me into a lot of trouble with God, myself and other people.

God wants me to be healthy and live in abundance of joy, great relationships and spiritual peace. The ideas, assumptions and principles that were loaded into my hard drive called the brain before salvation blocked peace, inhibited joy and promoted conflicts with God, myself and others. YIKES!!! I needed help.

I needed a church and Christian leaders who could assist me to repent of my old ways of thinking and to develop new Belief Systems.

I finally found ways that helped me repent. Oh, I knew that I needed to change my drinking, sex and cursing, but those are easy to alter. After repenting of my wild side I began to read the Bible while studying to be a teacher and coach.

I learned about God's word along with teaching students grow and change. I decided to apply those teaching methods to the Bible.

I learned:

If it works, do more of it.
If it does not work, stop it.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I learned the Christian education was NOT working.
I learned about what needed to STOP.
It was broken so I needed to fix it.

It was my experience with coaching that taught me most about being a disciple maker. I needed to coach Christians how to change their thinking, feelings and behavior. I learned that talk is not enough. I learned that students/disciples only learn when they change and only change when they actually PRACTICE new ways of thinking and acting.

Now I train, coach and disciple men and women with processes that see them change. Next time I'll tell you more about what I learned.

See my web page at for more on this topic.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gary Sweeten Day in Cincinnati

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This is a photo of the proclamation by Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory making October 2 Gary Sweeten Day in Cincinnati. It was a great blessing and honor to have EMI go to all the trouble to have the Mayor make the proclamation.

The Mayor also made Sunday, October 3 College Hill Presbyterian Church Day in Cincinnati for founding EMI and its predecessor, the Teleios Center, and supporting EMI's national and international ministries for thirty years.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Prayer for Living

Over the past few weeks I have been teaching on ways to implement the very important principles found in Romans 12:2.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

These simple words summarize much of what I have learned that works in the Christian life as well as pastoral care and counsel. Think for a moment about not following St. Paul's admonition. Suppose he said, "Please, friends, continue to do what the rest of the world wants you to do. Don't change your ideas or actions even though they are leading to chaos, confusion and dissipation and is obviously contrary to God's will."

Any culture in which we live invades our thinking and feelings constantly, silently and completely. As Will Rogers said upon his return from Paris: "Those Parisian kids are the smartest I have ever seen. Every one of them spoke a foreign language. French."

Not only does everyone living in a French speaking country speak that language, they also think in French and think and act like the culture thinks and acts. Americans are conformed to our culture in ways that are uniquely ours.

But, are these cultural values always Christian in orientation? The answer is a resounding "NO!" Greed, rampant individualism, sexual obsession, abortion and aggression are not biblical values. When St. Paul wrote to the Believers in Rome he knew well that the culture there was anything but Christian so he exhorted them to work at renewing their minds. Only then would they be able to live like Christ and love one another.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Without a doubt the EMI team led by Saddel Bradley along with Dave and Pam Ping put on a reunion and ceremony honoring myself and the pioneers who established EMI back in the days we served at College Hill Presbyterian Church.

The last post shows some of the photos from the event at the Marriott Hotel. I wish I could show you more and I will try to get additional shots from Friday night and from Sunday services at CHPC. Karen and I each said that the quality and quantity of EMI's ministry around the world have progressed dramatically since I retired. They have taken it much farther than I could have.

So, I want to thank the EMI team publicly.

I have often taught about the importance of following the biblical admonition to "Honor our fathers and mothers so we will live long on the earth." EMI did that with spades Friday and Sunday. May the blessings of God be yours for many generations.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Celebration of Missionary Organization

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Photos from the October 2 Banquet and Ceremony to Honor Dr. Gary Sweeten and other pioneers who founded and developed the Teleios Center and Equipping Ministries Inernational over thirty years ago at College Hill Presbyterian Church.
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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Reflection on Ministry

As I reflect on the last thirty years of ministry I am struck with how much Christian leaders and ordinary lay people are begging for practical Life Skills and how few seminaries train Ministers in their use. The research from all kinds of Helping Professions, including Ministry, indicates that the core of facilitating the growth and change of others lies in our ability to listen to, respect and care for people.

I recently read that only 13% of change in therapy comes from pills, psychological interventions, teaching and therapist theories. All the rest comes from caring relationships with family, friends, and the Helper. So, whether you are a Teacher, Psychiatrist, Pastor or Hair Dresser, learn to listen to your clients and your family members.

Love covers a multitude of sins.