Tuesday, June 29, 2010

History and Effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous

I just finished a good, but not real great, article in Wired Magazine about AA. It was so good that I decided to add a comment to it suggesting a couple of corrections. I suggest that you who are interested in healing and growth take a look at it.

Write me after you look it over and tell me what you think.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Increasing Family Dysfunction in America

As a Family Therapist I read research and news from other therapists and experts about the state of families in the USA. Frankly, many of the writers are deeply concerned about what they see as the fast growing decrease in the health of family relationships. We see at a remarkable and serious downturn in the ability of families and the institutions that impact families to deal with the natural, normal stresses of life.

In 1940 the American divorce rate was some 16% and now it is above 50% for a three fold or 300% increase. We know that in some instances people stayed together despite serious and unhealthy relationships but even it we doubled the percent of marriages that failed in 1940 we will still be shocked by how high the numbers are today.

Every marriage has ups and downs. They always have had highs and lows and they always will. However, one of the most important ways to discern the overall health of a society is how well they deal with tough times. A 50% divorce rate indicates that our society is in trouble; deep, deep trouble.

One of the most insightful lessons I ever learned about family life was to assess how well the entire family unit is functioning from generation to generation. Some of that health or un-health is based on the individual psychological functioning of each family member. However, when we look at how well a family deals with transitions from developmental stage to the next stage we get a new insights about the causes and cures of dysfunction.

Most of my Doctoral education in Counseling focused on the individuals inner life as the cause and cure of problems and successes. Over the years parents have brought their kids to me and said, "Fix this kid. I can't do anything with him or her". For a long time I would try to fix the kid as if he were the only one involved in the problem. Now I look at this kid's "problems" as indicative of the way the entire family relates to each other from generation to generation.

That does not mean that the kid is innocent. He is part of the problem and part of the solution if we will just listen to the reasons he/she is acting the way that troubles mom and dad.

Sometimes it is the only way the child can ask for help for mom and dad.

Sometimes it is the only way mom and dad will actually communicate with each other.

Sometimes the kid's issues are lengthening shadows of parental secrets and the need to confess to each other.

Sometimes it is the best way for a kid to obey the Bible's command to "Honor your father and mother so you days will be long and prosperous on the earth."

One thing is for sure about parenting. It is extremely difficult today in light of the downward spiral of the society. Recently a six year old boy was expelled from grade school because he made a hat like his dads for a school project. On the hat he made and place a tiny rifle just like the one on his dad's hat. But because the school has what they call, "A Zero Tolerance Policy" about guns in school, they had to expel the child.

As a society we are increasingly growing in our promotion of unthinking policies. This policy is so stupid, ignorant and ridiculous that no one with a brain of a marsh mellow would adopt it in the first place and certainly no one with the ability to reason rationally would implement it in this instance. This is only one small example of how unthinking and reactive our society is getting. And, it is occurring even in the halls of education by teachers and administrators. Any leader that does such an automatic, reptilian thing as this needs to be fired immediately.

How can parents rear peaceful, responsible and non reactive kids in such a climate? The only hope for parents is to build strong relationships with each other and our extended family members. Grandparents are very important to generational health as are uncles and aunts, friends and church members.

First, parents must work hard to heal all wounds from past generations. Forgive all hurts and sins of parents, grandparents, and siblings.

Second, get in a harmonious relationship with your spouse, even if you are divorced. (Divorce is easy but separation is impossible. Marriages last forever no matter what the court says.)

Third, develop healthy friendships for yourself as a support system. Fourth, get involved in a good, relational church.

We cannot outsource parenting.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wall Street Journal and Graduation

Here is an article in the Wall Street Journal describing the attacks of Barry Lynn attacking the ability of a high school to even hold graduation ceremonies in a church building. The rationale, "Some students feel uncomfortable" in a place where there are crosses and symbols of Christianity?"

According to the ACLU, people are so super sensitive that the government must force churches to take crosses and spires off of buildings near the street because people are offended by them when they drive by the building.

These kids are so super sensitive that just looking at a cross makes them ill.

Or, just being on holy ground makes them susceptible to be converted.

Here is my question: "How can the possibly live in or even drive though Saint Louis or Santa Fe?" The hate speech of the ACLU is extremely offensive to me because they are accusing all Christians of hostile acts. Shall we sue them?

Chaplains at Work

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting and insightful article about the growing trend of businesses hiring Chaplains to provide spiritual, relational and emotional assistant to their workers. They go to some lengths to show that the Chaplains are not substitutes for Counseling or Medical Care and that many unchurched and non religious workers welcome them in the workplace.

Comment on Stalin

I received an interesting comment with an article from NBC News on my post about genderside in the USSR under Stalin and Lenin. Unfortunately, the Blogger rules would not allow it to be posted so I am placing it here.

I appreciate your comments and feedback. Keep it up.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Genderside: Men at Risk

What happened to the men who were most productive in Stalin's reign of terror in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic? They were ranked as the top of their professions and Stalin sent them to the gulags or prison camps.

What happened to them in the camps? Most of them died. Here is the story.

By 1928, Stalin was entrenched as supreme Soviet leader, and he wasted little time in launching a series of national campaigns (the so-called Five-Year Plans) aimed at "collectivizing" the peasantry and turning the USSR into a powerful industrial state. Both campaigns featured murder on a massive scale. Collectivization especially targeted Ukraine, "the breadbasket of the Soviet Union," which clung stubbornly to its own national identity and preference for village-level communal landholdings. In 1932-33, Stalin engineered a famine (by massively raising the grain quota that the peasantry had to turn over to the state); this killed between six and seven million people and broke the back of Ukrainian resistance. The Ukrainian famine has only recently been recognized as one of the most destructive genocides of the twentieth century (see Robert Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow, and the Web resources compiled by The Ukrainian Weekly). The Five-Year Plans for industry, too, were implemented in an extraordinarily brutal fashion, leading to the deaths of millions of convict labourers, overwhelmingly men. These atrocities are described in the corvée (forced) labour case study. The millions of deaths in Stalin's "Gulag Archipelago" (the network of labour camps [gulags] scattered across the length and breath of Russia) are dealt with in the incarceration/death penalty case study.

Socialists cannot stand the notion that some people are superior in intelligence, talents, gifts and work habits. In socialist nations, the statistical truths contained in "The Bell Shaped Curve" are denied and fought at every turn. This meant that those who had by intelligence, hard work or family inheritance owned a far or store or had raised more hogs and cattle had to be eliminated. To the Communists it was "NOT FAIR".

What do you think about this notion?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why Kill the Men?

Most Americans do not realize the brutality of the Communists in the USSR. Under both Lenin and Stalin multiplied millions of people were tortured, murdered, starved, worked to death and in other ways eliminated. Almost all of them were males. Why did Lenin and Stalin wipe out so many men when they were, themselves men?

Almost every person to whom I have ministered in modern day Russia comes from a family who suffered terrible persecution death and loss of goods at the hands of evil men. Their grief is long standing and generational. Thank God for His wonderful gifts of healing and grace because we are seeing many people brought to faith and wholeness through prayer and God's word.

Part of it was probably due to their evil, paranoid personality disorders. Had they been ordinary citizens they would probably have picked on the poor, weak and helpless members of society. But they were not just ordinary men, they were heading one of the largest governments in the history of the world and it gave them absolute power over their citizens.

But the reign of terror in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic was carried out with such awful devastation on friend and foe, it must have been rooted in some kind of belief system. For example, they carried out a devilishly clever plan to change all workers and they did it in this way. Remember, one of their main slogans was, "Workers of the world, unite!" Here is how they united their Socialist workers.

Every person in a specific work classification was rank ordered from best to worst. All farmers, mechanics, electricians, secretaries, lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc. This meant that a Party Worker could go into the records of a village or town and know with some precision who the best and most productive workers were. It was clear which farmers grew the best crops or the biggest hogs and cattle and which ones were lousy at those and other tasks.

What would you do with such information? You could offer scholarships to the better farmers to go to school and become better farmers. Or, you could send the poor farmers to school to improve their production.

What did Lenin and Stalin do with that detailed information? If any of you can write me with a correct guess, I will send you a free book.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Atheists and Pornography

Porn or Prayer in the Bedroom?

Why would atheists hate Christians and our God so much that they would attack us and the Father with millions of dollars of advertising? Why would they go so far as to try to get men addicted to pornography to keep them from reading the Bible? Do they not know that porn is exploiting women, girls and boys? Do they not realize the damage it does to marriages and family life?

They do not seem to care about the damage their hate filled campaigns cause people. They are deeply dedicated to stopping the growth and influence of Christianity. They will not allow anything to stand in their way, even the abuse of women and children and the destruction of marriages.

I get regular notices about the writings of a Pastor and Theologian from Sweden by the name of K.A. Johnson. He writes about social, cultural and spiritual issues in Scandinavia and Europe. Pornography is used by most males in Europe. A Danish Pastor friend has asked me to teach him how to liberate men from its devastating hold. Both at the Life Way Counseling Centers and Sweeten Life Systems training ministry we have learned how to help men strengthen their commitment to god and family by kicking the porn habit.

The next time I go to Denmark we will continue our conversations and plan ways to train Christian Counselors and Pastors in the healing arts. (Go to my web page and download Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty.) Peder Poulsen, one of my former students in Denmark has a family counseling center where he ministers God's truth, love and liberation to hundreds of people.

The Finnish Humanist Society started an aggressive, expensive campaign last year in England and Europe to attack God and Christians. Now they have stepped up the hate filled approach to give away porn to men in exchange for Bibles.

Why would they do this? Why porn? Why in exchange for a Bible? Is porn the antithesis of faith in God and will it kill the desire to rad the Bible/ Is the Bible that dangerous to Atheism and Secular Humanism? Will inhaling porn kill a man's desire to love his God. Will it pull men from church and serving others?

The answers must be a resounding "YES!"

If I thought long and hard for a good reason to warn men to avoid pornography I would never have come up with this. If atheists or secular humanists are willing to spend multiplied millions to wean men and women from God by giving away something, they must believe it has potency to change the hearts, souls and minds of the consumers. P&G does not run advertisements that do not work and neither will the Atheist/Humanists. They strongly believe that by giving porn to men and women free they will draw them away from God and family life. Talk about faith in something, they have it in spades!

What do you think? Am I off base on this? Are the Finnish Humanists benign in their activities or are they fully aware of what they are doing?

You can join the conversation!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Book Now On the Web

I am publishing many of our writings on the web. E Books are easier to distribute, cheaper to develop and available to a much wider audience. I currently have several papers and two books available on the Sweeten Life ministry web site.

The first book we published online was Healing Souls, Touching Hearts. It is a summary of some of our most personal and passionate beliefs about ministry, caring, counseling and healing. Steve Griebling and I wrote it while we were teaching regularly in Singapore on the importance of Cell Groups. In many ways it is the slogan for all the major ministries we have founded and directed.

The second book by Steve and myself, Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty, is designed for those who are called to be Peer or Para Professional Helpers. It is, in fact, very powerful for even Professional Therapists because so few get really great practical training in Graduate school. In this book you will find and integration of counseling research and Bible truths like you have never seen before. If you are involved in trying to help people make good decisions, read Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty.

These are easy to download and it is easy to donate to Sweeten Life Systems, if you are so inclined. We hope that http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=8208149333766966737 people all over the world will use these books. They are great tools that God has developed for us. Now we can more easily spread the good news of Jesus Christ and His abundant life through the Internet.

Go to the web page and then to Resources and take a look.Download a book and some other materials such as the check lists we wrote for anxiety, depression and marriage satifaction. We also provide a paper that help Pastors and Peer Helpers know when to refer to a Professional.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Realistic Upclose Warfare

It is said that during the Civil War entire families rode horses and buggies out to watch the battles. We were able to see the reenacted battles up close and see the smoke, hear the guns roar and observe the men fall when they were "shot".

Civil War Battles on a Train

As I posted last time, we went to Lebanon, Ohio, Saturday to ride the old train and see a Civil War reenactment. It is an old town in these parts and an interesting one.

The train ride and all the action cost only $15.50 for us so it was a pretty inexpensive day. These photos show some of the action of the men and women who put on quite show. These photos indicate how warmly the women dressed even on a hot day and even when they had to tend to an open fire to make coffee.

Lebanon Ohio Train


Karen and I took two of our grandkids to Lebanon Saturday to ride the train and see the reenactment of a Civil War battle or two. It was a nice, warm day with some sprinkles in the air to keep us damp and we had a good time. It was an afternoon well spent with the kids and gave them a realistic idea of what it meant to live 150 years ago.
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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Have Pastors Abandoned Ministry?

American pastors are abandoning their posts, left and right, and at an alarming rate. They are not leaving their churches and getting other jobs. Congregations still pay their salaries. Their names remain on the church stationary and they continue to appear in pulpits on Sundays. But they are abandoning their posts, their calling. They have gone whoring after other gods. What they do with their time under the guise of pastoral ministry hasn’t the remotest connection with what the church’s pastors have done for most of twenty centuries.

A few of us are angry about it. We are angry because we have been deserted…. It is bitterly disappointing to enter a room full of people whom you have every reason to expect share the quest and commitments of pastoral work and find within ten minutes that they most definitely do not. They talk of images and statistics. They drop names. They discuss influence and status. Matters of God and the soul and Scripture are not grist for their mills.

The pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches. They are preoccupied with shopkeeper’s concerns–how to keep the customers happy, how to lure customers away from competitors down the street, how to package the goods so that the customers will lay out more money.

Some of them are very good shopkeepers. They attract a lot of customers, pull in great sums of money, develop splendid reputations. Yet it is still shopkeeping; religious shopkeeping, to be sure, but shopkeeping all the same. The marketing strategies of the fast-food franchise occupy the waking minds of these entrepreneurs; while asleep they dream of the kind of success that will get the attention of journalists.

The biblical fact is that there are no successful churches. There are, instead, communities of sinners, gathered before God week after week in towns and villages all over the world. The Holy Spirit gathers them and does his work in them. In these communities of sinners, one of the sinners is called pastor and given a designated responsibility in the community. The pastor’s responsibility is to keep the community attentive to God. It is this responsibility that is being abandoned in spades.”

From the introduction of Working the Angles written by Eugene Peterson

Do you agree or disagree with Dr. Peterson? Are you uncomfortable reading this? Is he just judgmental and out of touch?


Friday, June 04, 2010

Marriage is Changing in America

Over the past few decades we have seen a dramatic rise in inter racial and inter ethnic marriages. The Wall Street Journal reports on a new research study by the Pew Foundation that Black/White and Hispanic/White marriages are increasing almost every year. .

In my view, this bodes well for our nation and our world. When people from various backgrounds meet, fall in love and marry it implies that there are fewer conflicts between and among racial groups. However, when the biggest reason for divorce is an inability to deal well with differences and racial, ethnic, social and cultural differences can be difficult to manage. As a Family Therapist it appears that we need to bone up on how to assist people get along even though they are from different backgrounds.

This will also put new pressure on churches and their leaders since this is where much of the people with conflicts and differences emerge. Pastors and Lay Leaders provide much of the child care and marriage care in America so getting them better trained will be key to their success.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Leaders in Crises Communication

The current oil well crisis in the Gulf of Mexico is presenting several people with the opportunity to practice good to great crisis communication skills. The President of the United States, Governors of the various states around the Gulf and all the companies involved in the oil platform have been in front of the press almost daily for the past month or so. How do you think they have performed?

The Decker Company does consulting on communication for organizations, politicians and individuals and often writes about how well various people are doing. According to them some of the most powerful and important people involved in this crisis are getting failing grades.

How do you think these people have performed? Who do you think Decker judges to be well prepared and well spoken in such a hot seat? Do you think President Obama has done well? How about the President of British Petroleum or Bobby jindal, Governor of Louisiana?

As a Christian leader in a church, business or association how would you do in front of a battery of TV cameras, radio mikes, newspaper reporters if one of your employees, Elders or family members was caught in a compromising position? It has happened many times before and it will happen again? Are your prepared emotionally, spiritually and legally to say nothing about prepared to face all the cameras?

Take a look at the Decker Blog and see what you think. Does it make you want to prepare yourself for any upcoming crisis? What kind of crises have Christian leaders had to face in the past? How did they do?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

America is Pro-Life

The Gallup Poll does it again. Gallup, one of the most respected polling organizations in the world, regularly asks people what they think about key issues. Since the Supreme Court found in 1973 that it was OK to violate the promise of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..." found in the Constitution, if unborn babies were the citizens, abortion has been a very hotly debated topic.

Gallup has included questions about abortion in its surveys for a long time. Now, despite the fact that almost every "news" outlet promotes abortion, most Americans do not think it is moral to abort a baby. In today's issue of the Wall Street Journal, the latest Gallup Poll tells what people are thinking today.

Asked to rate various behaviors and social policies (e.g., embryonic stem-cell research, adultery, the death penalty) as either "morally wrong" or "morally acceptable," 50% called abortion wrong, as against only 38% who said it was acceptable. Even more contentious was the finding, for the second year in a row, that slightly more Americans consider themselves "pro-life" than "pro-choice" (47% to 45%).

In other words, God's truth is marching onward and upward to bring people to a sensible position. Thank God for His love and truth.


I posted an interesting article on my other blog Spiritual Healing and Growth about idols. Take a look.

You shall have no other gods before me!