You are on page 1of 141

power christian thinking

changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Table of Contents
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .......................................................................................................................... 4
PREFACE ................................................................................................................................................... 5
INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................................................... 11
CHAPTER 1 CHRISTIAN GROWTH AND HEALING: AN OVERVIEW...................................... 12
CHAPTER 2: THE BIBLICAL BASIS FOR POWER CHRISTIAN THINKING .......................... 25
CHAPTER 3 UNDERSTANDING THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS .................................................. 33
CHAPTER 4 BRAIN WAVES AND WORKS ..................................................................................... 46
CHAPTER 5 ADVERSITY AND ANXIETY TO MISERY APART IRRATIONAL THINKING
AND PESSIMISM ................................................................................................................................... 57
CHAPTER 6 FROM HOPELESSNESS TO FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE ......................................... 77
CHAPTER 7 PRAYER AND MEDITATION ...................................................................................... 89
APPENDIX A THE HEART OF CREATION AND FALLEN NATURE .......................................... 97
APPENDIX B SCRIPTURES OF WHO I AM IN CHRIST................................................................ 99
APPENDIX C SEVEN STEP METHOD OF RENEWING THE MIND......................................... 100
APPENDIX D: EVALUATION FOR CARE, COUNSELING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY ............ 101
APPENDIX E DEPRESSION CHECKLIST ...................................................................................... 102
APPENDIX F ANXIETY CHECKLIST .............................................................................................. 104
APPENDIX G THE HOLMES RAHE STRESS CHECK LIST ........................................................ 106
Page | 2
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

APPENDIX H TRAUMA & ABUSE CHECKLIST........................................................................... 108


APPENDIX I HOW TO MANAGE FEELINGS-FEMALES ............................................................ 109
APPENDIX J HOW TO MANAGE FEELINGS-MALES ................................................................. 115
APPENDIX K SERENITY PRAYER AND MEDITATION ........................................................... 125
APPENDIX L IS YOUR CHILD ANGRY? ........................................................................................ 127
APPENDIX M BASIC PRINCIPLES OF THEOLOGY.................................................................... 128
APPENDIX N DIFFERENT PERCEPTIONS .................................................................................. 130
APPENDIX O HOW TO WRITE YOUR OWN ABCDS ................................................................ 132
APPENDIX P MARITAL HAPPINESS ASSESSMENT ................................................................. 134
APPENDIX Q TRANSFORMATION GROWTH SYSTEM ........................................................... 135
APPENDIX R FEELING WORDS ..................................................................................................... 136
APPENDIX S BIBLIOGRAPHY AND REFERENCES .................................................................... 137

Page | 3
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Acknowledgments
Alice Petersen, Dorothy Geverdt and I (Gary Sweeten) wrote the first edition to this book
under the title of Rational Christian Thinking. It was used to train thousands of Christian
leaders, both lay and professional, to personally apply the spiritual and relational lessons of
the Bible to everyday life. RCT is currently taught around the world under many different
titles and languages.
RCT was supported first by the Elders of College Hill Presbyterian Church www.chpc.org
and taken by Equipping Ministries International www.equippingministries.org to the
world. The current edition has been substantially changed, updated and added to by
numerous friends and teachers such as Steve Griebling and Gail Bren, USA, Valerie Chan,
Singapore, Galina Chentsova, Russia, Jan Gossner and Jens-Petter Jorgensen, Norway, Peder
Paulsen, Denmark, and many more friends from Ankara to Cuba to Zimbabwe.
This edition has primarily been published to teach students being trained and certified by
the Global Awakening online school under the guidance of Randy Clark.
http://globalawakening.com Our focus is on fostering ongoing, progressive growth and
healing in a church by individual and small group care and counsel. This is in addition to
the dramatic healings brought about in large platform services.
The team at Global Awakening has provided great assistance to us in every regard. My
primary support in Cincinnati is Andrea Bowsher of Sweeten Life Systems. Ruth Ann
Koepcke did a great job of retyping the old copy and helping edit the new.

Page | 4
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Preface
This course is the second in a series of four that focus on The Care and Cure of Souls or
what is called Inner Healing by many contemporary Christian leaders. If you have not
finished the first course you will need to review some of the materials presented there. You
will especially need to become familiar with Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty. It is the
basic text for establishing a caring ministry in a local congregation.
The difference between a ministry of healing and care from the pulpit and one that arises
from an ongoing ministry of Discipleship and Pastoral Care is huge. A platform ministry has
one or a few ministers who speak and pray for many people for a limited time period. Most
of the persons in attendance are strangers to the minister. However, the Pastoral Care
approach is one to one to an individual, a couple or small group whom the Minister usually
knows well in an ongoing interaction of love, power and truth. It may focus on people with
an acute or long term, chronic issue.
John Sandford says in Transformation of the Inner Man that trying to do Discipleship,
Congregational Healing, and Pastoral Care from the pulpit are futile and largely
unsuccessful. Despite his and others in Inner Healing ministries, many seminaries,
churches, and leaders continue to emphasize the large group approach. They say that
caring, interpersonal relationships are not needed for Discipleship in the church. Instead,
they substitute preaching for ongoing relationships, coaching, consulting and counseling
because they use up too much time and energy. The emphasis on only large group
approach has left Christians weak, filled with pain and overwhelmed by temptations and
moral failings.
Almost every Pastor is a strong proponent of marriage and sexual purity. However,
according to Barna, churches are not successful in preventing toxic conflicts and divorce
among Christians. Barna said in his report:
Among adults who have been married, the study discovered that one-third (33%) have
experienced at least one divorce. That means that among all Americans 18 years of
age or older, whether they have been married or not, 25% have gone through a
marital split.
(T)he percentage of adults who have been married and divorced varies from segment
to segment. For instance, the groups with the most prolific experience of marriage
ending in divorce are downscale adults (39%), Baby Boomers (38%), those aligned
with a non-Christian faith (38%), African-Americans (36%), and people who consider
themselves to be liberal on social and political matters (37%).
Page | 5
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

(T)he lowest likelihood of having been divorced subsequent to marriage are Catholics
(28%), evangelicals (26%), upscale adults (22%), Asians (20%) and those who deem
themselves to be conservative on social and political matters (28%).
Born again Christians who are not evangelical were indistinguishable from the
national average on the matter of divorce: 33% have been married and divorced. The
survey did not determine if the divorce occurred before or after the person had become
born again. However, previous research by Barna has shown that less than two out of
every ten people who accept Christ as their savior do so after their first marriage.
In fact, when evangelicals and non-evangelical born again Christians are combined
into an aggregate class of born again adults, their divorce figure is statistically
identical to that of non-born again adults: 32% versus 33%, respectively.
Thirty percent of atheists and agnostics had been married and subsequently divorced.
However, the three-point difference from the national average was within the range of
sampling error, suggesting that their likelihood of experiencing a dissolved marriage is
the same as that of the population at-large. A representative from Barna also pointed
out the atheists and agnostics have lower rates of marriage and a higher likelihood of
cohabitation, a combination of behaviors that distort comparisons with other
segments.
When I read this research I am surprised, disappointed and sad. I think that Christians who
are born again and have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them would be better able to
prevent divorce than atheists. I thought they would be able to deal with the issues that
bring about a divorce. Yet, this study seems to show we Evangelicals are not dealing with
family problems more effectively than atheists.
This fact is especially troubling when we know that the primary causes of divorce are a
failure to practice the fruit of the Spirit. Many places in scripture focus on these fruit and
are detailed in Galatians 5:
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to
indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is
fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.15 If you bite
and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 The acts of the flesh are
obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft;
hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and
envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live
like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Despite this clear command from the Holy Spirit through St. Paul, Christians are the same
as others at walking in the flesh. Hardly any Christian would say he thinks it is good to be
sexually immoral, selfish, have fits of rage, drunkenness and dissension in the family. But
frankly, that is the situation in many of the biblically literate, church attending families
after hearing hundreds of sermons on love. . It is obvious that, Telling aint selling.
Page | 6
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Preaching without practice is not working. It must be followed up by coaching, training and
supervision.
At this writing the Super Bowl has just been completed. The stories about the skills of Tom
Brady and Eli Manning are amazing. They are some of the best quarterbacks in history. Yet,
Brady has a personal coach with whom he discusses his throws before and after each game.
And, each has a full time coach with their team. Would a football team expect to win if the
only coaching and training they received was an occasional sermon? Yet, that is exactly
how we treat believers and the church. No wonder we are losing so many families.
Jesus spent time equipping the Disciples to take over when He left. He spent the most time
with a few men. Then he spent a bit less with the next level of leaders and very little with
large crowds. These men and women had to be well trained because of His plans for them
outlined in Mathew 28.
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had
told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has
been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and
teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with
you always, to the very end of the age.1
His Great Commission is clear: Go make disciples who can DO what I did. Disciples are
practicing students. As a teacher and coach, I knew that in order to get a team ready to play
the game, I had to help them change their behavior. I had to plan for the opponents, give the
players explicit direction, correction and protection. This cannot be done from the stands
and we cannot wait until game day to do it. Our Christian Disciples must learn how to pray
for the sick, love the unlovely, attack strongholds and overcome evil spirits. That requires
rigorous training.
One of my acquaintances came home from seminary after getting a Doctorate in Counseling
at a well regarded seminary. For a dissertation he wrote about exorcism. Some months
after our talk he called and asked for help with an evil man in his church. I was surprised
since his Doctorate was on that specific area. I asked why he wanted my help and he told
me he had not actually seen or practiced healing or spiritual warfare prayers. He knew the
theory, but not the practice of Christian ministry. Remember this saying of mine: Truth
separated from practice will always remain in the realm of doubt.
Christians are confused when it comes to equipping and training disciples. We seem to
think that the pep rally is the only preparation we need to play the game of life well.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Unless otherwise noted in the text.

Page | 7
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Motivation, excitement and positive emotions are important. However, they are no
substitute for coaching. The Holy Spirit tells us to coach in Ephesians 4:11.
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and
teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be
built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then
we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and
there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their
deceitful scheming.
The most gifted leaders are called to Equip His people for works of serving. Equip means
to prepare people to care for others. In Swedish the term means outfitting a Viking ship of
war. The goal is to help people grow from Babes to Adults as Christians; to become mature
in Christ.
15 speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body
of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held
together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part
does its work.
By speaking truthfully and lovingly our maturity reflects that of Christ, who is loving and
caring as well as the embodiment of truth. When Christ comes to us, we foster unity in the
Spirit in the bond of peace. Then the body of believers can grow, interact and become
mature while working as a team. This is why coaching is so important.
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the
Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their
understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in
them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have
given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they
are full of greed.
Paul says, I insist that you live differently and sensitively not with hearts blocked by sin.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ
and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were
taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being
corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24
and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
To do this we must put off my old self and put on a new self by getting a new attitude.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor,
for we are all members of one body. 26 In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go
down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 29 Do not let
any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building
others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not
grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form
Page | 8
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as
in Christ God forgave you.
The keys to the new life are healthy, uplifting relationships free from anger, bitterness and
put downs, blame and shame. This list is exactly what Dr. John Gottman and Nan Silver
discovered in the research on married couples as reported in Why Marriages Succeed or
Fail. They write that the greatest cause of toxic conflict and divorce are not sex, money,
work and so forth. Divorce happens when a couple fails to deal constructively with the
difference they have over these issues. It is here that the research amazingly mirrors Jesus
teaching in Matthew 5:
21 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, You shall not murder,[a]
and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. 22 But I tell you that anyone
who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who
says to a brother or sister, Raca, is answerable to the court. And anyone who says,
You fool! will be in danger of the fire of hell.
This is very similar to that which we quoted by Paul, indicating that the Holy Spirit
inspired both. The message is critically important as stated by Gottman. He lays out the
levels of conflict in the same way as Jesus.
Level I. Compatibility and Contentment lead to joy
Level II. Anger leads to a Complaint with stress that can be resolved
Level III. Raca leads to Criticism about behavior that can be difficult to deal with and
can get destructive and defensive leading to judgment
Level IV. Calling the partner a Fool leads to extreme defensiveness, fight/flight and
emotional flooding. It is, as Jesus says, Hell on earth
The Power Christian Thinking part of Soul Care Inner Healing is foundational to helping
people receive healing and recovery from past experiences of trauma that leads to toxic
thoughts, feelings and actions. The root causes of current anger, bitterness and toxic talk
are past hurts.
Hurt people hurt people! Many of the people who attack their families, themselves carry
the wounds of past family dysfunctions. They have been deeply wounded and are replaying
and repaying the behavior they learned at home.
Helping these people demands the very best wisdom and love we can muster. In fact, there
are actually three facets of Gods wisdom that we need to see operating in a ministry of
healing. They are Gods truth, His fruit and His power. In Power Christian Thinking we
focus mainly on renewing the mind with Gods truth. However, the basis of all healing is
interacting with others and God in the fruit of the Spirit.
In Chapter 3 of Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty (Sweeten) we laid out that research.
Counseling outcomes indicates that caring love and respect are the most important
attributes of an effective Helper. Read Chapter 3 and meditate on the importance of love
and care to heal hurting hearts. We also noted that the Helpers theory of change is also
Page | 9
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

important. This book will focus on power thinking, one of the most powerful interventions
in counseling that is closely aligned to biblical ideas about change.
We strongly recommend that all Christian Helpers integrate the Core Helper Skills in the
acrostic AS I GREW found in Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty and in Listening for
Heavens Sake (Sweeten).
AS-Always Spiritual: God is always with us and in us
I-Inviting: We have a welcoming attitude.
G-Genuine: This requires me to know myself, be aware of my thoughts and feelings and
manage my thoughts and feelings, and be real.
R-Respect: We treat all persons as equals. We do not interact with Blame or Shame.
E-Empathy: We listen to the thoughts and feelings of others and let them know we are
trying to understand their point of view.
W-Warmth: We show nonverbal interest and concern.
In Chapter 4 of Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty we lay out the roadmap to effective
helping. We examine the stages of change each person goes through to move from living in
the flesh to living in the Spirit. We have summarized the stages into three parts: the Visitor
Stage; the Complainant Stage; and the Ready to Change Stage. Our goal is to interact in
ways that seem most likely to help a Seeker move from an emotional and spiritual Visitor
to a self motivated person, Ready to change. Ephesians 4 Put off the old man and put on
the new man.
We were involved in inner healing for several years before we discovered the importance
of intervening at the right time in the right way when a Seeker was Ready to Change. We
mistakenly thought that our knowledge, faith and power were the most important parts of
the healing process. During that time we fought many battles and thought we had victories,
only to see the Seekers fall back into emotional, spiritual, and relational troubles. Then we
saw that the right way to intervene was a combination of love, truth and power, according
to the Seekers readiness to take off the old and put on the new. The key is not the
readiness of the Helper, but the willingness of the Seeker to change. After putting an entire
plan and process together we had fewer battles and many more victories with far fewer
relapses.
From Europe, Asia, Africa, Russia and the USA we hear testimonies of how Power Christian
Thinking changed minds, hearts, behavior, and relationships. We found that teaching the
whole congregation, including children, was key to success. Having a community of like
minded believers helps prevent people from falling back into their old ways. It can keep
couples together and solve their marital problems. Even young children learned how to
meet and defeat irrational thinking and find peace at home.

Page | 10
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Introduction
Many scholars now think that the Sistine Chapel fresco by Michelangelo, represents God
touching Adam after he was alive. The purpose, they say, was to give him a heart from
Gods brain. Dr. Meshberger of the USA is one man who noticed how similar the painting
behind the God is to a drawing of the human brain.
In this book we shall give much focus to the most amazing creation the world has ever seen,
the human brain. Michelangelo was a brilliant artist who carefully researched the human
anatomy and operated on cadavers to understand exactly what the body and brain looked
like. As you can see from the fresco, Adam is alive with open eyes when God touched him.
Many believe it means God made Adam a living soul at this point and Michelangelo used the
image of the human brain to indicate what it means to be created in the image of God
(imago Dei). http://www.thecaveonline.com/APEH/michelangelosbrain.html
As Christians we are called in Isaiah 61 and Luke 4 to Heal the broken hearted and set the
captives free. In order to accomplish that goal we have to know a bit about the brain and
what drives humans to live the way we do. We need to know why there is so much death,
disease, and destruction from other humans. In my view, the best place to start is the study
of the human brain and how it operates to bring in health and sickness.

Page | 11
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Chapter 1 Christian Growth and Healing: An


Overview
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise
the simple (Psalms 19:7).
The main purpose of this series of classes on The Care and Cure of Souls is to equip
Christians to joyfully encourage one another to grow daily in Christian maturity. Growing
in Christ over time is generally called, Progressive Sanctification and causes many
theological arguments among believers.
We are dedicated to facilitating the growth and healing of believers. That means churches
and church workers need to know how to become a healing/growth community. Ever since
I became involved in counseling and healing, I have thought about how the Sanctification
process in myself and others works. I first started to study the topic in depth when I
became deeply involved in inner healing and Pastoral Care. A small group of us led a house
church movement in the Seventies. The community and the campus of University of
Cincinnati, where I served, were hot beds of brokenness and we soon found ourselves
overwhelmed by needy students. I later served as a Discipleship Minister at a large church
for sixteen years and finished a Doctorate on this topic. Since 1976, I have taught Christian
leaders to improve their skills and knowledge in the field and set up equipping centers
internationally. In summary, my life has focused on growth and healing personally and
professionally for decades.
Let us admit that those of us who are deeply involved in the move of the Holy Spirit have
largely focused on conference healing rather than ongoing ministries of congregational
care. However, most Christians will never attend a healing conference or receive coaching
in a large group. However, almost every Christian is in a congregation. Our goal is to equip
church leaders to facilitate ongoing, daily growth and healing in a healing/growth
community . St. Paul says in Philippians 3:1-16
Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the
same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. For it is we who are the
circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no
confidence in the flesh though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
Page | 12
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more,
I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus
my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain
Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the
law, but that which is through faith in Christ the righteousness that comes from God
on the basis of faith. I want to know Christyes, to know the power of his resurrection
and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow,
attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I
press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and
sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the
goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point
you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we
have already attained.
This teaching by Paul describes our model for the healing/growth process. Just as we are
saved by grace through faith and not our own works, we are sanctified by grace through
faith, not by works. However, growth does require us to cooperate with Gods Spirit to
receive all He has for us. (Ephesians 2:9-11)
Christian Anthropology
The most significant thing that can be said about a human being is that he is created in the
image of God (Imago Dei). Secular humanists place humans in the center of the world at the
height of the evolutionary process. They indicate that what we see in humanity is the best
that has ever been. However, the evolutionary position is far short of what Scripture says
about us.
Genesis indicates that humans are reflectors of the Creator. According to the Bible we bear
His image and likeness, a fact which places us far beyond any position that could come from
evolution. Adam and Eve were placed in the center of creation and given the position of
ruling it with the Father.
The second aspect of our imago Dei was also used to describe ambassadors chosen to
represent a king on foreign soil. When Dr. Condoleezza Rice was the U.S. Secretary of State,
she visited foreign nations and negotiated agreements with their heads. She did not act on
her own, but represented President Bush. She was not speaking as a private citizen.

Page | 13
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

In the days of Moses, an ambassador wore a Signet Ring with the seal of the king. When a
contract was signed with foreign nations, he used the ring to engrave the imago dei of the
king into the warm wax that sealed the contract. Thus, God created for Himself humans
who were ambassadors who were to represent His ideas, His nature and His person. Until
Adam and Eves creation, there was no one who could be an ambassador. Humans were
created by God as unique in identity, inheritance and worth. They were designated to be
Gods ambassadors.
Adam and Eve were open and reflected His nature with each other and themselves. The
Bible says it in this way in the Genesis 1 NKJV:
18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a
helper comparable to him. 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of
the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call
them. And whatever Adam called each living creature that was its name. 20 So Adam
gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for
Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one
of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had
taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam
said:
This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and
they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked and were not ashamed.
This is not a fashion statement about clothing, but a comment about transparency before
God and each other. They knew themselves fully with no conscious or unconscious division
in their souls. Thus, God created Adam and Eve to be whole, transparent persons in every
way as indicated by the open hearts in Illustration 1 below.
Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. So God created man in His own image, in the
image of God He created him, male and female, He created them (Genesis 1:26-27). The image
of God is shown through all seven areas of personhood; spirit, mind, emotions, behavior,
body, interpersonal, and family.

Page | 14
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Illustration 1. God and His Creatures in Harmony

GOD

Adam

Eve

In Eden we find the first and only time when humans were normal. Adam and Eve lived
without sickness, or irrational thinking, hurt feelings or hiding from God or each other.
They were transparent and honest, working together to serve the earth, God, and each
other, and built a family of love and nurture. And Adam had a mate that was equal to him.
After they sinned, as recorded in Chapter Three, the entire world and all those within it
have been abnormal. The goal of Christ and His people is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit
to return the earth and people to being normal. Christ came to restore us to full humanity,
reflecting the glory of God and living as ambassadors to the King without sin.
Impact of the Fallen Nature
Adam and Eves original sin, against God in Eden, issued forth a broken and sinful nature to
all mankind. They knew that death was deserved and their identity as Children of God
threatened, and so they compulsively tried to hide themselves from God and each other.
Our inherited nature from Adam predisposes us to self-centeredness and body, soul, and
spirit sickness. In rebellion we turn to our own ways, rather than Gods and we have true
moral guilt that requires either Gods justice or His forgiveness. In our shame, caused by a
loss of identity and inheritance, we cover ourselves with fig leaves of denial, deception, or
defensiveness, so that others will not see our real face. Just as Adam blamed God (and Eve)
for his own sin and Eve blamed Satan for hers, we shift the responsibility for our behaviors
to others.
To our Adamic Nature we add Cains Nature. Every family became dysfunctional and brings
pain, trauma, and bad habits to its members. Then we add our own sinful ways with failure
to admit the guilt to God, so dysfunction upon dysfunction is laid in layers of pain and
distortion.
Page | 15
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

As a result of the Fall, every human being has a heart that is wicked and full of
misunderstanding (Jeremiah 17:9), to the point that we cannot understand it ourselves (I
Corinthians 2:10-12). Such qualities cause deep divisions which keep much of our inner
(unconscious) lives out of reach of our conscious minds. The unconscious parts of our
beings contain the residue of our Adamic nature as well as the unresolved results of our
own sin. These memory banks impact not only our past memories, but impact us in the
present. All of these combine into a powerful force, driving us to do that which we do not
want to do (Romans 7:19). Sin has four distinct and separate areas- bondage, rebellion,
guilt, and shame- that must be faced if the souls of Christians are to be cured.
The narrative in Genesis Three shows that humans are now separated from themselves,
from each other and from God. The openness and transparency they enjoyed is broken.
They have separated themselves and brought destruction and distortion into their lives.
Illustration 2: The Transparency is Blocked

The Nature of Christians: Created, Fallen, Redeemed and Growing


This is the place where many of us end up in confusion. We usually agree that Adam and
Eve were created perfectly, but really messed up all creation when they sinned. We also
agree that we who accept Christ will find eternal life and complete wholeness in heaven.
But what is the exact state of Christian persons in between salvation and heaven?
In some ways, the fact that we who write and most who read this material are in the
ministry of Christian Healing answers that query.
Because we assume people need healing we must assume also that everyone is broken.
When Jesus took the scroll in Luke 4 and read from Isaiah 61 as His call, we can also
assume that to be a Christian in a ministry carrying out His call as stated in Matthew 28
that we want to be like The Great Physician.

Page | 16
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

If Christians were pure, holy, sinless and disease free in body and soul as soon as they came
to Christ, there would be no need for a healing ministry, hospitals, or counseling. But we
desperately need more of these ministries, not fewer.
It is reported that a lady from a Wesleyan Holiness tradition approached a Bishop at a
revival meeting in London. She asked him if he had been sanctified, meaning had he
become pure and holy by experiencing a second work of grace. The Bishop supposedly
replied, Madam, I have been sanctified, I am being sanctified and I shall be sanctified in
heaven. These are the three stages of salvation/ sanctification:
Definitive Sanctification: Is our Position in Christ in the heavenly places as stated in
Ephesians 1:20. It declares that I am whole in Christ as Gods child with a new nature, a
new name and a new identity.
Progressive Sanctification: Our Condition in Christ indicates we still struggle with the
fleshly temptations of the body, soul, and spirit. It says that we need to be saved, healed,
and delivered daily from remaining Bondage, Rebellion, True Moral Guilt, and Shamefaced
thoughts and feelings. Although we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the change and
healing process, we are always dependent upon His Holy Spirit and His grace.
Realized Sanctification: When we get to heaven, all tears, illnesses and problems will
disappear. Then we shall realize that for which we have been longing. While we live on
earth, we shall always struggle with sickness, sins, troubles, and pains. However, we can
turn our lives over to Him who has overcome the world. In order to effectively assist people
who struggle with difficulties, we need to understand the issues all of us face and clearly
assess the roots of problems that people bring to us.
This is especially important for those who minister in churches. We see the same people
with chronic problems every week. Only when we understand the depth of the issue will
we be able to have the energy, patience, and power to help people. Most Christian leaders
see the need for Gods love, power, and truth to be applied daily. We constantly need
healing, growth and change to spirit, soul, and body. (See McNeil, Moon and Sandford for
more in the bibliography for information on this subject).
Bondage of Christians
Bondage represents those areas of our spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional lives that
are impacted by Adams Nature. The traumatic results run throughout history from
generation to generation. It includes sickness, accidents, and ties of generation, as well as
unresolved rebellion, guilt, and shame. The opposite of bondage is freedom, and only the
intervention of Gods Spirit and truth can set us free. Being in bondage implies that we are
often blind to problems and impotent to change those things of which we are aware.

Page | 17
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

It is about bondage that the term total depravity has been coined. That means that we
cannot, do anything on our own to redeem ourselves from our sinful condition. Some
people believe that we can always choose to change our habits and behaviors, but that has
not been my experience.
For some years John Wesley argued that Christians could live without sinning if they only
sought and received a second blessing from the Holy Spirit. Wesley was confronted by
some of his friends and decided that there were two levels of sinning. Type I Sins were
willfully and consciously refusing to obey God. Type II Sins were the result of a debased
and depraved body, for We have these treasures in earthen vessels. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
(Watson, PP 208-211)
John and Paula Sandford, two insightful teachers on soul care, take a position similar to
Wesleys, but use different terms. In their classic books updated for contemporary readers,
the Sandfords make a clear case for dealing with every Christians Bondage, Rebellion,
Guilt, and Shame. Transforming the Inner Man says The Lord has opened our eyes to
understand that there is a vast difference between specific sins and the hidden sinful
practices that lie at their roots.
They go on to say Sins need forgiveness. But our flesh that gives birth to sins can only be
dealt with by our own death on the cross. They use the term flesh when pointing to fallen
nature and what I call Bondage of the Flesh. They believe that for the church to be holy, we
ministers must learn how to lay the axe to the root of sinful impulses and bondage
inherited from Adam. Until that happens, we will never get rid of daily sins.
Rebellious Christians
Rebellion describes the universal human inclination to willfully choose to do my own thing
rather than Gods things. Deuteronomy 30:15 commanded the Hebrew children to choose
life rather than death. However, they often chose death. God wants us to have abundant life,
but in rebellion, we too often follow our own will. The operative word in Rebellion is
choosing. With bondage we have no real choice. A paralyzed man cannot choose to walk.
However a lazy man can choose to walk, but chooses to sit. These are the daily sins of
which the Sandfords speak.
Willful decisions are followed by acts and the acts develop into habits. As habits grow, they
become a lifestyle of unconscious choices and habits. They have a life of their own and
become bondage. The force of habit can control us to the point that we are unable to make
clear choices by acts of the will.
As a young man, I wanted to smoke cigarettes. I thought it would make me cool. My
desires led me to choose to smoke and I tried it. Although it made me physically ill at first,
smoking made me feel good emotionally. I perceived myself as cool with the other boys.
Page | 18
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

In other words, my decision to smoke was rewarded by cool feelings which were strong
reinforcements, and I smoked more and more to satisfy my desire to be cool. Finally,
smoking became a strong habit, and I eventually was addicted. As time passed, the habit/
compulsion included smoking after eating. As a result, I developed a lifestyle with
interlocking habits of eating, drinking coffee, and smoking cigarettes along with the
thought that I was cool.
When I wanted to stop smoking, I had to confront and change not just one choice, but a
whole framework of thoughts, decisions, emotions, and compulsive/ dependent behaviors.
My bondage to the addictive cycle of smoking, relaxation, and release of nervous energy
was hard to break. I no longer consciously chose to smoke.
The lifestyle had begun to control me. As a result, to stop my habit, I had to change many
deeply ingrained habit patterns, all of which were related to my basic needs of eating and
drinking. Additionally, I was guilty and ashamed of myself. My early rebellious choices
were now bondage of soul and body.
The opposite of rebellion is submission to God. As Paul notes in Romans 7, absolute, neverfailing submission to Christ is not possible on this earth. The law of bondage in our flesh
interferes with our desire to serve God. When the habits of rebellion are not broken, they
become a powerful part of bondage of the flesh. These habits of rebellion also reinforce
addiction and the blind impotence of our fallen condition. As Paul said, Who will rescue me
from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24-25).
The Holy Spirit is a power greater than ourselves that can free us from addictive habits. The
Spirit allows us to finally choose life rather than death. Living daily by grace gives us the
power to follow God.
True Moral Guilt
Salvation means that the True Moral Guilt that separated us from God forever has been
forgiven. The justice we deserved from God was paid for by Jesus on the cross. However,
when we fail as Christians, we also experience a sense of Guilt and a bad conscience.
Although guilt itself has no emotional expression, a bad conscience will always give us a
warning that something is wrong. Additionally, true moral guilt leads Christians to be
convicted by the Holy Spirit (II Corinthians 7:10). Conviction also has an emotional
dimension. Conviction is the nudge of the Holy Spirit to lead us to confess, repent and
accept forgiveness.
Guilt for Christians is the stain of separation that results from our failures and
imperfections. Just as sitting on a recently painted park bench leaves a stain, so does
violating the laws of God. Some of us refuse to admit our guilt while others feel guilty
even though we are not under conviction. This feeling is anxiety and condemnation, not
true moral guilt with the Spirits conviction. Whether admitted or not, felt or not, sin leaves
Page | 19
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

a stain that only Gods forgiveness can remove and restore us to open transparency.
Thankfully, our eternal forgiveness was settled though Justification when we were born
again. However, current guilt disturbs our harmonious relationship with God, so we do
need to clean it up. God has provided a way to gain a clear conscience for all sinners.
Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so you will be healed. James
5:16
Mutual confession is healthy emotionally and psychologically. Some secular humanist
counselors and 12 Step leaders write about its therapeutic aspects and teach clients how
to confess and forgive each other. Not only is this good psychologically, it is essential
spiritually. Unresolved guilt results in a callous conscience, additional rebellion, shame and
bondage. As guilt remains unresolved we tend to respond less to the Spirits wooing, be less
sensitive to the convicting power of God. As guilt grows, so do shame, fears, selfcondemnation, and many other unhealthy consequences.
McNeil says that the early church was healthy because it practiced open confession of sin
and guilt. It would be impossible for gossip to thrive when the sinners are all admitting
their problems. An atheist psychologist, O. H. Mowrer, said in my presence that The early
church was the most powerful therapeutic community ever known to humanity. People
came to the church broken, violent, and troubled, but they became whole primarily through
mutual confession and discipline.
Wesleys methods led him to be scornfully criticized as a Methodist. One of his methods
was to gather people in a James 5 type of community to ask each other, How is it with thy
soul? This would be followed by a time of confession, forgiveness and prayers. In fact,
according to McNeil, all of the Evangelical traditions in Europe and America agreed with
the responsibility of members to care for the soul and body of each other. (McNeil, p 280)
Shame
Shame is mentioned in the Bible far more than guilt. It is the opposite of respect and
esteem. It is also the emotional expression of failure. At its root it is the belief that I am no
longer worthy to be a member of Gods family. True moral guilt comes from violating Gods
will. Shame is a result of the violation of our groups and Gods standards for membership
in His family. Shame is a social/communal issue. The standards may include Gods law, but
they also include many values and beliefs that come from family, friends, and culture rather
than Scripture.
Peter was ashamed and embarrassed to fellowship with Gentile believers. The Spirit had to
tell him three times to go visit the Gentiles (Acts 10:9-17). Even after the Holy Spirit was

Page | 20
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

poured out on the Gentiles Peter felt uneasy and withdrew from fellowship when other
Jews complained (Galatians 2:11)
Peters shame was a direct result of his cultural standards rather than Gods standards.
There was no true moral guilt associated with his fellowship with Gentiles, but there was
cultural shame. In fact, although he had True Moral Guilt when he withdrew, he felt better.
Group identity was very powerful in Jewish life, and new Christians came up against it
daily. Shame is outwardly shown as embarrassment, self-condemnation, fear, and hiding.
In another instance Peter suffered from both guilt and shame. When he denied Jesus three
times, he violated Gods will. When the cock crowed, he realized his sin. He not only had
guilt, but he was also ashamed (Luke 22:54-62). Like Adam and Eve, Peter wanted to hide
behind a bush. Shame leads to hiding, fear, and defensiveness. Hiding is evidenced with fig
leaves in the Fall.
The opposite of shame is transparency and genuineness. When we do not remove shame, it
becomes a habitual life-style, a part of the bondage that keeps us blind and impotent.
Shame also shows up as defensiveness, and is designed by our self-protective instincts (The
Fall) to keep us from facing the pain of our own failures. It is also intended to keep others
from seeing our failures.
The antidote to shame is acceptance of Gods grace, of Christs finished work on the cross,
and our new identity in Gods family despite our imperfections. We must be able to accept
the fact that while we still live and act in fleshly, sinful ways, we are loved by the Father and
accepted as His son. Failure to rid ourselves of bondage, rebellion, guilt and shame daily
can lead to increased levels of each, especially bondage. As Helpers, people most often
come to us with years of poor spiritual and emotional practices. This has added greatly to
their bondage, rebellion, guilt, and shame cycle. People may come with 20 to 40 years of
addictive habits. Their lives are overwhelmed with compulsions for food, sex, alcohol, and
irrational thoughts. Despite delaying their healing for years they usually want an instant
cure. They want us to kiss to make it better.
Guilt and shame cause people to be super sensitive to rejection. That has important
implications for a healing ministry. Effective ministry to a Seekers deep heart requires
agape love and all the fruit of the Spirit. Nonjudgmental love and acceptance is the thing
that best encourages guilty and ashamed believers to take off their defensive masks to
confess and repent. Jesus taught about this in Luke 6:37-42.
Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be
condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you. A good
measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your
lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Jesus says that we must meet people without judgment and be willing to serve.
Page | 21
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

He also told them this parable: Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall
into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will
be like their teacher. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye
and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother,
Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, when you yourself fail to see the plank
in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will
see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.
Jesus speaks powerfully to us who want to minister healing. The first step is to examine
ourselves. If we are blinded by our own issues, we cannot lead the Seeker to decisions that
are good and holy. Before looking at a sinners guilt and shame, we need to be sure to
confess our own. He says, Listen you hypocrite, take off that pious false front and get real.
(Hypocrite means mask wearer in Greek. www.bibleone.net )
Although God sometimes chooses to instantly heal and change a sinner into an overnight
saint, in most cases the needed change is a constant, lifelong process that requires
experience with Gods truth, fruit, and gifts. Our goal is to facilitate the growth process in all
who want to be whole in Christ. The principles we teach are especially valuable for helping
people allow the Holy Spirit to move in their heart and change the thoughts that lead to
irrational shame.
Applying Grace
All people consciously and unconsciously hide from God, themselves, and others. In order
to understand a persons real motives and interests we must move beyond the superficial
into their deep heart. Only then can it be opened to Christ and His redemptive work of
salvation and sanctification. This is difficult, but is possible with Gods guidance. . In
Genesis 3:21, God models the way we best minister to the hurting, sinful, defensive Adams
and Eves around us. The Bible says, the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his
wife and clothed them.
God reached out in grace and love to Adam and Eve. He covered them with the bloody skins
of animals He had sacrificed for that purpose. It was grace in action and a perfect
prefiguration of things to come. The Son of God loved us while we were still sinners. He
covered us with His blood on Calvary. This models how we are to love one another.
This is especially true when reaching out to unbelievers. They have not yet begun the
journey to sanctification. They need to be redeemed. They are dead in sin and must be
made alive. We are rebelling from God and need to be converted. We are stained with true
moral guilt and must be cleansed and forgiven. We are without an identity in Gods family
and must be adopted as eldest sons who inherit everything.

Page | 22
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

But it is also true of Christians, especially the Babes in Christ, who have not yet learned that
the Sanctification process is necessary after being born again. Grace, mercy and love are
essential when we minister to those who think Christianity demands a perfect
performance in order to pay for healing. Relating with grace is especially important when
we are attempting to minister to a Christian that has fallen. We are instructed in Galatians
6:1 to be very mature and very careful as we seek to restore a Christian to the right path.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit
should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be
tempted.
Notice first that only the spiritually mature are to try to restore a sinner to right behavior.
Second, notice that we can be tempted when we are involved in the care and cure of souls.
The greatest temptation is to overlook the transgression and not take it seriously when God
wants us to help this person be restored.
We need to face the fact that soul care, especially when the Seeker is a rebel, is very
difficult. It demands the full embrace of the Holy Spirits fruit to be successful. Only then
can we Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). But we can face a great temptation to be
too soft and easy going so the result is a failure of nerve and a failure to help the sinner
confess and repent. It takes courage to help a sinner repent.
A second temptation is to be too harsh. I recently heard of a church that has established a
task force to oversee the repentance of sinners in their church. The process seemed devoid
of grace and love and instead acted in a legalistic and harsh manner. This kind of approach
misses the fact that only the Holy Spirit can truly convict a sinner and bring him or her to
repentance and restoration. A church task force cannot be a substitute for the Holy Spirit in
any situation. But it is especially true that we cannot substitute our wisdom for Gods
wisdom when a sinner is involved.
There are some soul care theorists who believe that Christians are best corrected through
immediate and harsh confrontation. Although confrontation may be necessary at some
point in an ongoing relationship, it is not appropriate when used too soon or too frequently.
In fact, Scripture and common sense tell us that hurried and harsh confrontation does not
work to restore them to the church.
If I confided in a friend about a struggle with a strong temptation to sin, I would want him
to offer, love, wisdom, care, encouragement and prayer along with an admonition about sin.
I would not want him to point out my sin and command me to repent. I all ready knew I
was in trouble for that is why I asked for assistance. I have yet to meet anyone who wants
to be treated abruptly and harshly. As a result, we follow the teaching of Jesus to Do unto
others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12).

Page | 23
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Additionally, we do not know what is behind the action so we may be focusing on the
wrong thing to confront. More than that, none of us really understands the heart of
ourselves, let along another person. Even after listening and praying with a sinner, we may
not fully understand the root of the problem, so patience with love is always required.
Confrontation emphasizes the justice of God toward the guilt of people. It is sometimes
necessary, but only after a relationship of trust has been established between the Helper
(anyone who Helps another) and the Seeker (the one who needs help). After grace, mercy
and love have earned us the right to be heard, accountability and confrontation can be used
with benefit, but not before.
At the beginning of a relationship, when the Seekers guilt and shame are felt most
intensely, only grace (which is expressed through loving acceptance of the person) can
effectively enable a Helper to break through the fig leaves of self-condemnation, denial,
blaming, and anger. Confrontation, especially when it is accurate, is far too threatening to
use early in the Helping relationship. Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same
way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to
you (Mt 7:1-2).
If we meet others with grace, love, acceptance, and forgiveness, we will receive the same,
for the measure we give will be the measure we get. In fact, premature confrontation
causes additional fig leaves to grow and makes the final healing even more difficult to
achieve. Confrontation may be (and often is) perceived as attack; thus, it is the fertilizer of
fear. Fear is the precursor of shame. That which causes fear and shame is deficient in love.
But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who
fears is not made perfect in love (I John 4:18).
It is love and grace that leads us to change our behavior (repentance). The Scripture says:
do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness not realizing that Gods kindness
leads you toward repentance (Romans 2:4) We Christians are commanded in Scripture to
love one another and to accept one another as Christ accepted us. It is important to
remember that Christs acceptance of us was before we were Christians. It was while we
were still sinners. (Romans 5:8) In Galatians we are commanded to live by the fruit of the
Spirit rather than the fruit of the flesh (Galatians 5:16 - 6:1).
Rather than being prematurely confrontational, we are to show the fruit of love, joy, peace,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is this fruit that is the focus
of our listening classes and books like Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty. These have
an emphasis on peaceful relationships.
The Johari Window is a visual illustration of the deep heart and is helpful in understanding
the importance of learning the skills we teach. See Appendix A to read more about how the
transparent hearts and Johari Window symbolize our relationship with God, self, and
others.
Page | 24
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Chapter 2: The Biblical Basis for Power Christian


Thinking
Be made new in the attitude of your minds
(Ephesians 4:23).
The last of human freedoms - the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances.
Viktor Frankl

Scripture is clear in its affirmation of personhood and individual responsibility. Genesis


1:27 says, So God created Man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him; male
and female He created them. The Lord God gave Adam and Eve great responsibility when
He placed them in the garden to till it and keep it and gave them dominion over the earth
(Genesis 2:15). Then something happened that changed all of humankind.
Adam and Eve thought they knew better than God concerning their own well-being, and, as
a result, they disobeyed His commands. Satan manipulated Eve into thinking about the fruit
of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and its promise of power. As she continued to
think on Satans promises, her attitudes and beliefs about God changed, and she ate the
fruit. In this first family we can see how a change in thinking led to a change in behavior.
With that action, sin entered the world and now humanity lives with the results which
include impaired, irrational thinking. Whereas, humanity was created to reflect the logic
and rationality of God the Creator, the Fall changed our mental and emotional abilities to
the point that rational thinking is rare in the human family. Our bondage, rebellion, guilt
and shame, make rational, power thinking almost impossible.
In Mark 7:14-23, the Pharisees were debating with Jesus about the subject of religious
defilement. In 20th century terms, they might have been debating the issue of personal
responsibility and sinfulness. The Pharisees maintained that the primary cause of
uncleanliness (sin) came from external activities like food and drink, touching unclean
things and so forth. The disciples asked Jesus for clarification and He stated that sinful
attitudes and behaviors come from within the heart and mind rather than from external
things. He must have shocked his disciples and the Pharisees when he said:
For from within, out of mens hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality,
theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander,
Page | 25
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside, and make a man unclean
(Mark 7:21-23).
In other words as Luke recorded in Chapter 6:41-45 Out of the overflow of the heart that the
mouth speaks, and Out of the root come the fruits. In our next class we will focus on prayer
therapy to Lay the axe to the roots, but first we will look at the thought patterns arising
from the roots which can cause us such misery. The self-talk and conversations that flow
out of the heart reveal hidden beliefs. By carefully observing conversations of those with
whom we work we can better discover the roots and change the belief patterns that cause
problems.
This is very good news! Jesus Christ came to set us free from bondage, rebellion, guilt and
shame, all of which arise from within the heart and mind. Dr. Andrew Newberg, a famous
agnostic neurological researcher says that the brains automatic default position is hostility
with a fight or flight syndrome. He believes that it is damaged by evolution and the brains
of all humans tend to react with anger, division, and emotional defensiveness. (Newberg,
2010)
We Christians agree with Newberg that the brain/mind/heart is deceitful and wicked.
However, our reason is not evolution but fallen nature. The Bondage, Rebellion, Guilt and
Shame impacts our hearts and predisposes us to fights not friendships. Dr. Newberg goes
on to say that faith, prayer and worship tend to heal the brain and push it toward love,
peace, forgiveness and mutual caring. (Newberg, 2010)
Not only do the things that defile us come from within, the things that heal, deliver and give
freedom also come from within. Healing begins and ends in the heart and mind not in the
body or behavior. Thank God we have the ability to change the heart and mind from bitter
to better; from hostility to peace; from cursing to blessing; from anger to forgiveness; from
criticism to care; from division to unity.
One of the most powerful ways to experience the freedom that Christ gives is to realize that
the Holy Spirit can help us change the way we think and, as a result, change the way we feel
and act. We have the responsibility to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in an ongoing renewal
of the mind. But, we must change from victims to victors in the way we believe and pursue
inner wholeness no matter what others do to stop us. Our motivation and our drive make a
difference.
The task before us as Christian Helpers and friends is to assist others as they change their
irrational, hopeless, powerless beliefs, self-defeating values, destructive self-talk and
inaccurate perceptions. Power Christian Thinking is a tool that can help us accomplish
these goals. With understanding and practice, it will become a habit, a lifestyle and a way of
life.

Page | 26
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Growth and healing are like losing weight. Diets that promise a quick fix only fix the wallets
of the writers. We must adopt a new way of thinking about food and a new lifestyle of
choosing to eat, exercise and live. The same is true for the care and cure of souls. Only a
lifestyle change will set us free.
Romans 12:1 & 2, is the cornerstone passage for PCT.
I urge you brothers (and sisters), in view of Gods grace to offer your bodies as
living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do
not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind.
This passage is an exhortation to be constantly transformed by the renewing of the mind
and thus become conformed to the image of Christ. For our purposes, we will use thinking
rationally and thinking with power interchangeably with renewing the mind. Thinking
rationally and powerfully do not mean being unemotional, mechanical, boring, or
uncreative. In fact, the opposite is true. Thinking with Christian Power means applying
Gods truth to ourselves and the adverse situations we face. It means that we think with the
power of the Holy Spirit to defeat the enemies of our souls.
Thinking with Gods power is a mark of mental and emotional well-being. When we think
with the guidance of the Spirit we are in touch with reality. We can develop attitudes that
are consistent with Gods word and express our feelings freely and spontaneously. Jesus
Christ modeled this way of living and He functioned fully as a feeling, caring human being.
Let us reflect for a moment on Romans 12:2:
Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. In this
passage there are important words that need an explanation. They are conformed, world,
mind, transformed, and renewal.
CONFORMED means to be pressed into a mold by an external force and it is used here to
indicated worldly, fleshly thinking. God is reminding us of the hostile forces that press
themselves upon our thinking and actions daily in a fallen world.
WORLD is the cosmos or non-Christian ideas and activities of a fallen world.
MIND is used often in the New Testament. The different Greek words for mind describe the
thinking, willing, evaluative part of the brain. This ability is what sets human beings apart
from the rest of creation. We are created in His image, and much of that image is this ability
to think, comprehend, and communicate with God, self, and others.

Page | 27
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

The word heart is used to convey the same concept as the mind. While heart and mind are
not exactly alike, they are used interchangeably enough to be very close in meaning. The
Hebrew word leb (heart) and the Greek word cardia (heart) are close to the Greek word
nous (mind). The Bible is saying to be conformed into the image of Christ we must renew
both the heart and mind.
TRANSFORMED is a terrific term, the thrust of which implies a complete conversion or
changed mind. Car models change every year with slight adjustments, but it is still the same
Buick, Ford, or Plymouth. Once in a while Detroit brings out a whole new car that is
completely changed. We, too, may change a belief statement here or there and not be
transformed. But Pauls exhortation to be transformed is a challenge to become literally a
new creature in Christ. Many theologians and philosophers discuss and disagree about the
difference between the mind and the brain. We may simply say in computer terms that the
brain is the hardware of the soul and the mind/heart is the software. This passage seems to
indicate that both must be changed from its old fleshly state to a new state in Christ.
A renewed mind is still a mind, yet it is more than simply a changed mind. It is a mind
made new again and is uncontaminated, unimpeded, and uncluttered by old, sinful thought
patterns. Trauma, habitual thinking patterns, and unresolved guilt and shame contaminate
our hardware and our software so we need to work to change its structure and its habits.
The Holy Spirit begins the process of transformation at conversion and the process
continues for the rest of our lives. When Scripture tells us to transform our minds, the
directive is to be completely new and changed consciously and unconsciously in the
evaluative, volitional, emotional, and decision-making aspects of our being and that will
take a lifetime.
RENEW is a brand new and the Holy Spirit! It is not found in secular Greek literature
because it is contrary to a secularist world view. It depicts the creation of life which was
not originally present. It cannot happen without the miraculous life giving Holy Spirit. God
is saying, Be changed by allowing the new life of the Spirit to enter your thought process.
This is a tremendous promise. It means that we can radically change our lives by altering
the ways we think! New life comes into our minds from God, and we continue His life by
thinking His thoughts.
God has revealed Himself in nature as well as in Scripture and in Jesus. Psalm 19:1 states,
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. We can catch
a glimpse of God by observing his created works, including people. The scientific study of
human beings is called psychology or sociology. Although much of the psychological theory
is badly flawed as a result of inadequate theology, some is consistent with Scripture. The
observations of social scientists sometimes coincide with Gods special revelation.
This is especially true for the processes of psychological thought. The scientific study of
how the mind works, for example, allows us to place the truth of God within the thinking
Page | 28
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

process. Since all truth is Gods truth, whether or not it originates from a Christian thinker
or a non-Christian thinker, we can learn from the sciences. Believers have the best of all
worlds: the truth of God in Scripture (Logos), the leadership of His Spirit in life (rhema),
and the scientific study of His creation (Cosmos). How blessed we are!
This passage brilliantly puts together our efforts and the miracle power of the Spirit to
facilitate growth and healing. Some believers are horrified at the idea that we can use what
they call, secular knowledge and research to accomplish Gods work. However, every
church uses Gods creation and ideas developed by non-Christians. Whether true or not, it
is often reported that Martin Luther was criticized for using popular music in church and
he answered rhetorically, Why should the devil have all the good music? We do know that
Luther was a lover of all kinds of good music.
Our dear fathers and prophets did not desire without reason that music be always
used in the churches. Hence, we have so many songs and psalms.
This precious gift has been given to man alone that he might thereby remind himself
that God has created man for the express purpose of praising and extolling God.
However, when man's natural musical ability is whetted and polished to the extent
that it becomes an art, then do we note with great surprise the great and perfect
wisdom of God in music, which is, after all, His product and His gift; we marvel when
we hear music in which one voice sings a simple melody, while three, four, or five
other voices play and trip lustily around the voice that sings its simple melody and
adorn this simple melody wonderfully with artistic musical effects, thus reminding
us of a heavenly dance, where all meet in a spirit of friendliness, caress and embrace.
A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous
creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a
human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and
the grunting of hogs. (Eldrberry)
Unbelievers are often very talented in observing human behavior. My own training in
Psychology and Family Therapy has taught me many things about the processes of healthy
living. Although most of my professors knew nothing about Gods word, I learned about the
brain and the body and applying my insights with the addition of Gods truth and the Holy
Spirit.
Paul says that we must transform our minds and that requires our effort and initiative.
However, the renewal is Gods part. I plant the seeds and God gives the increase. If I do not
plant with my efforts and ideas nothing will grow. But I cannot make the increase occur.
Only God heals, renews and gives His miracles to my way of thinking and way of living. It is
like working on a trapeze with God. I climb the ladder and jump off the seat, but God must
catch me.

Page | 29
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

When God gives us a command, He provides us with the ability to perform it. Even though it
is impossible to change the people or events around us, we do have the ability, through the
Holy Spirit, to change the destructive ways we respond to those people and events. By
controlling our inner world, we can influence our responses to events in the outer world.
As we incorporate this new way of thinking and behaving into our lives, we know that
transformation and renewal will occur.
Most of us want to be happy, joyful, peaceful people. By transforming and renewing our
minds, we can develop attitudes and habits that allow us to feel essentially the way we
wish to feel. Believing God rather than ourselves and believing His grace talk rather than
our own condemning self-talk will have a revolutionary impact upon our lives. When we
believe that The truest thing about me is what God says about me, then we are well on our
way to renewed, transformed thinking and feeling.
Being able to view the world with a renewed mind enables us to face the stresses and
strains of life with peace and trust in God. Research on stress shows that being able to see
some good in various stressful life events enables persons to tolerate those stresses with
more health than those who are mentally overwhelmed by problems. So, Power Christian
Thinking (PCT) has mental, emotional, behavioral, spiritual, interpersonal, communal and
physical rewards.
The word Heart in the Old Testament
I Kings 3:9

So give your servant a discerning heart

I Chronicles 28:9

serve Him with wholehearted devotion

Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be


acceptable in Thy sight

Proverbs 7:3

Write (My words) on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

I Samuel 16:7

The Lord looks at the heart.

The word Mind in the New Testament


Romans 1:28

God gave them over to a depraved mind

Romans 7:23

waging war against the law of my mind

Romans 7:25

with the mind I myself serve the law


Page | 30

2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Romans 11:34

who has known the mind of the Lord

Romans 12:2

by the renewing of your mind

Romans 14:5

be fully convinced in your mind.

I Corinthians 1:10

united in the same mind.

I Corinthians 2:16

Who has known the mind of the Lord but we have the mind of
Christ.

Ephesians 4:17

in the futility of their mind

Colossians 2:18

vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind

I Timothy 6:5

disputings of men of corrupt minds

Titus 1:15

even their mind and conscience is defiled.

Revelation 17:9

And here is the mind that has wisdom.

Bible Study
Paraphrase and meditate upon these verses. Wherever possible, insert your own name in
order to make it more personal.
Romans 12:2 John, dont worry about fitting into what the world dictates as
valuable. Align your thinking with my word and become a new person
Matthew 11:28-30, John 14:1, Ephesians 4:17-24, Philippians 4:8-9 Philippians 2:5
Gods part a guarantee of support
I Thessalonians 5:24, Philippians 4:9, Philippians 1:6
Obedience as possible, accomplishable goal
Deuteronomy 30:11-14 and Philippians 4:13
The Offer of Life or Death
Proverbs 18:21 and Deuteronomy 30:19-2
Quiz
1. __________________________ is thinking appropriately and accurately about ourselves and
things about us.
2. We become transformed, changed by _________________ our minds.
Page | 31
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

3. Briefly explain what these words mean: transformed, renew, mind.


4. The way we __________________ determines the way we feel.
5. If God tells us to do something, we can know that it is ________________
6. Our part of renewing the mind is:
7. Gods part of renewing the mind is:
8. As we _____________________________________, so are we.
9. Write the most effective ways you have found to renew your mind.

Page | 32
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Chapter 3 Understanding Thoughts and Feelings


We have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16).
In order to understand the need for all of us to renew our minds and move toward
appropriating the mind of Christ, all we need to do is watch the news. The amount of
emotional distress around us is staggering. Divorce, child abuse, depression and anxiety are
rampant and growing in intensity and numbers. People complaining of stress and burn out
as well as giving in to drugs and other compulsive behavior is a tsunami. So, what can we
do?
This course and these materials are designed to help you personally learn to develop more
self-control and experience less stress, depression and anxiety. As you grow in faith, hope
and love you will also improve your interactions with God, self and others. As we are safe in
Gods love and peace, we can assist others who seek the same. We hope to see thousands of
churches become communities of healing and growth. This course can be an essential part
of seeing our goal come to pass.
Alice Petersen, Dorothy Geverdt and I wrote the first edition of this course in 1983. Since
that time it has been rewritten and taught to thousands of men, women, boys and girls
around the globe. The principles of renewing the mind have proven to be practical and
powerful in over one hundred nations. We believe they are a gift from God to heal His
people.
Our goal is to follow Ephesians 4:11-16 and Equip Gods people to grow in several ways.
1. Personal Growth in thinking like Christ. This is the goal of discipleship
2. Prevention of mental, emotional, relational problems. Research shows that those
who learn these principles will think, feel, and act more positively.
3. Prepare some to become Peer Helpers of friends and relatives. As we learn to think
clearer we can offer support and care to others
4. Prepare some to be Para-Professional Helpers who work under a Professional. Many
past students are serving as assistants to Pastors and Counselors.
5. Prepare some to be Professional Helpers. Dozens of Professional Counselors and
Pastors started their preparation in these basic classes.

Page | 33
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Outcome research for the past fifty years indicates that these classes can produce personal
growth and healing even more dramatic than seeking individual counseling. We saw great
improvement emotionally, relationally and spiritually among our students at College Hill
Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati. . The testimonies of graduates indicate that God used the
training to bring lasting positive changes.
In this course, we define emotions differently than in the past. Usually emotions are defined
by feeling words like happy, sad, angry, depressed, peaceful, glad, or anxious. However, in
our approach, these terms represent only one quarter of our definition. For our purposes
emotions have four parts.
Activating Events are situations that occur either in the outer world or in the inner world of
the memory, imagination and values. These events start a chain of thinking and
emotional/behavioral events.
Belief Systems are reservoirs of values, opinion, will, desire, attitudes, memories, self-talk,
thoughts and perceptions.
Consequential Feelings are the emotions that accompany an Activating Event. They can
envelop us, capture our attention, and overwhelm us.
Decisive Behaviors are the specific actions performed as a result of Consequential Feelings.
As with Activating Events, they may occur in the outside world, or in the inner world of the
mind. They may be harmful or helpful, and may appear to be spontaneous with the
Activating Event.
Because both Decisive Behaviors and Consequential Feelings spring from the Belief System,
the primary focus of this course is to teach a practical method of changing beliefs that
result in destructive and hurtful Decisive Behaviors. Through this method. both feelings
and behavior can be altered toward more positive interactions.
A More Detailed View of the Belief System
Thinking is perhaps the most significant activity that we perform. Since our minds set us
apart from the rest of creation, thinking becomes the center of the Christian life. Because
thinking leads to feelings and actions, it is fundamental to understand the Belief System.
Our Belief System can be compared to an umbrella. Without the spokes, an umbrella would
not hold together. The spokes radiate from the center to every part of the cover and
provide a sturdy frame that binds the umbrella together into a single, useful tool. A Belief
System is similar in that there are several spokes radiating from the center to hold the
Belief System together. The spokes on which we will concentrate are memories,
evaluations, self-talk, and our perceptions. Some of these spokes are similar to the others
and overlap.
Page | 34
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

OUR MEMORIES are the ideas, thoughts, images, and experiences from the past that affect
our present Belief System. We know that bad events can cause lasting trauma to the brain
leading to dysfunction and fragile emotions in the present. Memories reside both
consciously and unconsciously in our heart and arise to impact us positively or negatively.
OUR EVALUATIONS about people, life, groups, and objects cause us to be positive, negative,
or neutral about how we view our world. The Bible has many examples of Evaluative Belief
Systems that were challenged by Jesus and His followers. Christs views of the world were
different from the other Rabbis of His day and they had a hard time accepting new beliefs.
In this course we shall ask you to alter your beliefs to fit a new way of thinking. Evaluations
are simply views such as:
The world is a good or bad place
The world is a safe or unsafe place
The world is a dangerous or peaceful place
People are mean or nice
I am a victim or a victor
People cannot or can change
I cannot trust or can trust my spouse
OUR UNIQUE PERCEPTIONS consist of the ways we view things. I am often amazed that
other people can see the same incident from such a different point of view than I. I am
trying to learn that it is not wise to assume that I see events like others.
That room is messy or just like he wants it to be
The dog is fun or irritating
The girl is pretty or plain
Snow is wonderful or uncomfortable
OUR SELF TALK consists of the constant dialogue in our mind. God created us with high
definition audio/video recorders inside the skull. It can record and replay every incident
and every perception I ever have, often with an image of the event. I can carry on a
discussion with myself that is a mix of memories, evaluations, and perceptions from the
past, present and future. Self-talk fills our thoughts and undergirds our feelings and actions.
If we want to know what is in a persons deepest Belief System, we can listen to their selftalk. It is what we say about ourselves to ourselves. This is why listening is the most
important skill we use in healing . When listening to self-talk, you might hear:
You really messed up again. Dont you do anything right?
I am a good person, so people like me and I like them.
I always fail and I guess I can never change.
I never do things right.
I am a child of God who makes mistakes, but it will all work out.
Page | 35
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Watch the video on You Tube for insights about how our Perceptions can be fooled.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo&feature=player_embedded
Dr. Newberg says that his neurological research shows that the brain is often wrong about
what it thinks it sees, hears and believes. This video is a striking reminder of why we need
to check our ideas, perceptions and conclusions out before making final decisions about
life.
What is a Christian Belief System?
We believe that inappropriate actions stem from the heart; the inner place of thought and
belief. It is here that God also begins His work of renewal. Jesus told His followers in John
14:16-17 that He would send a Helper to be with them and in them. When we are born
again, something real and powerful happens in our heart to start bringing about a radical
change of thinking, feeling and behaving. That work continues throughout the rest of our
life. In order to partially understand the work of the Spirit with us and in us work, we must
be able to describe a Christian Belief System, for it is uniquely different from our PreChristian Belief System.
II Corinthians 5:17 says, If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new
has come! Coming to Christ is the beginning of the renewing, sanctification process which
will be continuing during the entire duration of our earthly lives. There are three facets of
the sanctification process:
1. DEFINITIVE SANCTIFICATION emphasizes that we are perfect in Christ
2. PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION emphasizes that we are being made perfect in
Christ
3. REALIZED SANCTIFICATION (GLORIFICATION), emphasizes we will be made
perfect in Christ in heaven.
Being renewed in our minds has aspects of all three, but is most clearly found in
progressive sanctification. The thrust of Romans 12:2, which exhorts us to be renewed in
our minds, is a part of that on-going process of growth into wholeness and holiness on a
continual basis.
If we have a living relationship with Jesus Christ, then we can confidently and expectantly
look for a difference in our Belief Systems compared to how we thought as an unbeliever.
Some of the marks of a Christian Belief System are as follows:

Page | 36
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

God is ever present in our lives. He is constantly with us. He loves us and has the very
best intentions for us.
Our minds are being transformed and renewed. We need to allow the Spirit of God to
lead us into all Truth, so we can change from the old ways of thinking to have the mind
of Christ.
God is not irrational, so having the mind of Christ means leaving irrational, hopeless
thoughts behind, and begin seeing the world from Gods point of view.
We believe Gods truth rather than Satans lies. John 10:10 says, The thief comes only to
steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full
(abundantly). A large part of abundant living is saying yes to Gods truth and no to
Satans lies. This is consistent with Deuteronomy 30 in which God tells His people to
choose life rather than death.
What God says about us is the truest thing there is. (See Appendix B Scriptures of Who I
Am in Christ.) A Christian Belief System is committed to believing those truths rather
than irrational, hopeless self-talk or the misinformation we get from a faulty
environment.
The Bible is Gods authority for us. Christians with renewed minds will spend little time
debating thoughts and behavior that are contrary to Gods word, but will reject and
remove from our life all things contrary to the Bible. Those are then removed from the
mind, feelings, and behavior.
Christians recognize that new thoughts and behaviors come from the Holy Spirit. The
task of renewing our minds is a direct result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the
changes that take place are infused with His power. Prayer, meditation, worship,
fellowship and Bible study open us to the direct influence of the Holy Spirit
The above statements are built upon the three assumptions of our faith: The supernatural
tenants of orthodox, historic Christianity are true, that Christ is Lord of all life, and that
good scholarship serves the cause of Christ.
Abbreviated Emotions
You will remember that the way we describe emotions is different from what is usually the
case. We suggest that emotions consist of four elements: Activating Events, Belief Systems,
Consequential Feelings and Decisive Behavior. We also suggest that, for the most part, the
ways we feel and what we do are actually caused by what we think. In other words, my kids
are not driving me crazy, as we often hear a distressed mom say, it is the way I think about
my kids that drives me crazy.
Page | 37
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

In real life, this does not appear to be so clear and neat. More often, feelings and behavior
seem to occur in order of ACD---B: For example, Mary enters church and is greeted with
kind words and a hug from her friend Susan. Mary immediately feels happy and peaceful.
These feelings come automatically with no consideration of what her Belief System is
saying at that point in time.
Activating Event: Kind words and hugs
Consequential feelings: Happy, Pleased
Decisive Behavior: Relaxed, Smile, Hugs Back
Where is the Belief System?
Her Belief System probably contained the following thoughts:
o
o
o
o
o

Susan likes me.


I want Susan to like me.
Hugs feel good.
I am included in this group.
I am a special person.

Marys Belief System remained unexamined, and unconscious. Her feelings seemed
automatic with no thoughts included. The hug and laughter with which Mary responded
also seemed automatic Decisive Behaviors without consideration or planning from the
Belief System. This describes an abbreviated emotion. The process seemed to move
immediately from Marys A to her C, good feelings, and D, responsive hug without any
intervening contact with the Belief System. However, all four parts technically, if quickly
occur in the ABCD order.
ACTIVATING EVENTS-Those things that happen to which we react
BELIEF SYSTEM-My conscious and unconscious world of thoughts, values and convictions,
memories, wounds, that filter what I perceive about the Activating Event
CONSEQUENTIAL FEELINGS-The emotional reaction I have as a result of the ways I
perceive and think about the Activating Event.
DECISIVE BEHAVIOR-My physical reaction to the Activating Event
Activating Event (A) of the situation seems to immediately trigger the
Consequential Feelings (C) of sad, mad, glad, afraid, guilt
Decisive Behaviors (D) of smiles, frowns, or anger

Page | 38
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Belief System (B) that unconscious beliefs, perceptions and memories seemed to be absent.
Most of the time we react to events as if the Belief System was absent. We shall concentrate
on each segments to slow the process down enough to analyze what happens inside our
heads and hearts thousands of times each day.
Using these principles to analyze the ABCDs is similar to using a slow motion instant
replay in sports. In PCT we learn to slow the processes of thinking, feeling, and behaving in
order to analyze their component parts and decide if we are thinking with the mind of
Christ.
In the following example, see if you can spot the Activating Event, the Beliefs, and the
Consequential Feelings. Looking for the Decisive Behavior will come later. Right now, think
about the Abbreviated Emotion that Joe experienced.
As Joe Bull was walking down a familiar path in the woods behind his home, he noticed a
snake a few yards ahead. Joe immediately shivered, turned around, yelled loudly and
quickly ran back to his house shaking like a leaf. Upon his return to the house, his wife
asked him to describe what happened.
Joe probably told his wife about the event by going over the ACD below. Why might he not
talk about the Belief System?
o Activating Event (A). What triggered Joes beliefs, feelings, and behavior?
o What were his Consequential Feelings (C)?
o What is Joes Decisive Behavior (D)?
Joes processing of this can be diagrammed in ABCD terms as follows:
A

Activating Event

Belief System

Consequential
Feelings
Fear, panic, anxiety

Decisive Behavior

Joe sees Snake

Yell, Turn, Run

Now think about what Beliefs are likely to cause Joes strong Feelings and Behavior. Write
them in the box under B.

Page | 39
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Take a moment to analyze why we have labeled C as Consequential Feelings and D as


Decisive Behavior.
When Joe arrived home breathless and harried, he told Nelda what happened in this
manner. I was walking on the footpath near the pond when suddenly a big green snake
came out onto the walk and scared me half to death.
Nelda: What did you do?
Joe: I ran like crazy to get away from him. He looked mean and nasty to me.
Joe is jumping over his hidden beliefs in an Abbreviated Emotion. Joes feelings of fear and
his physical reaction are the result of his underlying beliefs.
Here is the way we would think about the event. (Gary: Silently says to himself, The snake
did not frighten Joe. He was frightened by what he believes about snakes. When he saw a
snake, Joes beliefs were triggered and they caused the feeling responses of fear and
anxiety. Joes ideas and self-talk, not the snake, caused the fear, anxiety and yelling as well
as the running. Gary would not say those things out loud because it would likely confuse
and frustrate his friend Joe. However, Gary might listen and clarify what Joe was saying to
allow him to come to his own conclusion about the cause of his fears.)
Was Joes fear, logical or illogical? Was it rational or irrational? It is hard to say without
more information about the kind of snake it was and how aggressive it was. However,
either way we know that Joe chose to become fearful because his beliefs about snakes. If he
decided that his fears were based on faulty beliefs and were irrational and untrue, he could
choose to feel differently by altering his beliefs.
This is a difficult concept to accept since our experience tells us to focus upon outside
events as the cause of our emotions and behavior. The pressure of the world system tries to
force us into its mold, but Gods system tells us something completely different. Most of us
have grown up blaming other people and events for our feelings and behavior. We hear
statements like Snakes scare me, or, You make me angry, or I just cant help being
overwhelmed with stress that permeate the way we think about the world. From a biblical
point of view that is consistent with brain research, I allow myself to become afraid of
snakes. Not only that but I allow myself to be angry. Since we cause our own feelings, we
are also capable of changing them when they are inappropriate, unhealthy or unbiblical.
Emotional feelings do not work like physical feelings. If someone spills hot coffee on your
arm, it would be accurate to say, You hurt me. But to be emotionally hurt is usually a
result of the way we see things and think about them. Since we allow ourselves to believe
we have been attacked and victimized we will likely feel hurt, angry, and sad. But, it is not
always correct to say that the other person made us feel that way since I chose to think

Page | 40
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

like a victim. If I refuse to take responsibility for my own emotions and behaviors it will
interfere with my growth and healing.
This does not mean that our words and treatment cannot do harm to others. The Bible is
clear and so is psychological research on the point that we can cause harm to others by
being critical and contemptuous. However, as we will later show, it is the way we think
about and ruminate on those wounds that add so much trauma to the brain. Renewing the
mind can bring healing to the trauma and stop further damage.
Many of us go through life believing that we are the hapless victims of circumstances
beyond our control. We do not have to be victims of uncontrollable emotions. Rather, as
persons created in the image of God we can, through renewed thinking, be in control of our
feelings and behaviors. The only way to change our feelings is by refusing to continue the
worlds Stinking Thinking. This is what is meant by Romans 12: 2 when it tells us to Renew
the mind. We do not have to be victims of a sinful world and a fallen humanity. Over time
we can choose to alter the beliefs that cause us trouble and make us miserable. Often
shocking at first, this truth has the power to set us free.
The keys to successfully changing Stinking Thinking are:
Motivation a desire to accept responsibility for our own lives and to give up all
vestiges of victim mentality. Some of us have been taught to be victims, and we have
learned to like it. Blaming others is easier than looking within our heart to find the
problem. But, as Pogo said, We have met the enemy and he is us.
Mastery the willingness to work hard enough to develop new thought patterns, to
overcome old habits and fears, and to persevere even when progress is not
apparent. It is possible over time to change our lives by renewing our minds, but it
takes hard work and willingness to learn new habits. This is what we mean by the
term, Progressive Sanctification and Progressive Growth and Healing. It will feel
uncomfortable at first, like a new diet, but in the long run it will bring growth that is
worth the effort, for The truth will set you free (John 8:32).
The Power of Words
It is important to renew our vocabularies as well as our minds. In fact, our minds cannot be
fully renewed unless our vocabulary is also changed. We suggest that all of us use think
when stating an idea and use feel when describing an emotion such as mad, sad, glad, guilty,
and anxious. The following examples are incorrect uses of feel.
I feel like going to be with Mother at Christmas.
I feel like taking algebra next semester.
How do you feel about the way the choir sang last Sunday?
Page | 41
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

I feel they sang well, but Id feel better if they sang more worship songs.
Corrected Examples

I think I will go to be with Mother at Christmas.


I believe I will take algebra next semester.
What do you think about the choir last Sunday?
I think they sang well, but I believe that they need to sing more worship songs.

The following examples illustrate the proper use of the word feel.

I feel enthusiastic about going to be with Mother at Christmas.


I feel excited, yet a bit nervous about taking algebra next semester.
What do you think about the choir last Sunday?
I feel happy when they sing well, but I feel joy when they use worship songs.

Exercise Feeling/Belief
In the following exercises, identify the feeling statements and the belief statements. Write F
or B before each example to identify it as a Feeling statement or a Belief statement. Where
feel is used incorrectly, mark through it and write in the correct word above it.
____1.

I am so glad to see you today!

____2.

I think its too bad that Tims guitar string broke.

____3.

I feel that it is wrong for people to abuse their children.

____4.

Russ feels that he really needs to go to class today even though he doesnt
want to go.

____5.

Karen is delighted about her college girl coming home again.

____6.

Dougs kick-off went into the end-zone, so he feels like he did a good job.

____7.

Vicki felt happy and surprised when her dad sent her flowers on her
birthday.

____8.

The man felt scalded and angry when the food server spilled hot coffee on
him, but she felt that he deserved it because he wouldnt allow her the space
to serve him.

Page | 42
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

____9.

I know that you dont agree with me, but I feel this so deeply that I must do it
anyway.

____10.

Dad, what do you feel I should do about this?

One of the objectives of the book is to alert people to the importance of thinking in their
lives. By doing so, we are in no way devaluing the importance of feelings in the Christian
life. Throughout Scripture there is an emphasis on the importance of feelings. Jesus Himself
showed the full range of feelings from grief at the death of His friend Lazarus to joy because
of the repentant Zaccheus.
Exercises and Review
Identify A (Activating Event), C (Consequential Feelings), D (Decisive Behavior), and B
(Belief system) in each scenario. You may need to consider what is not said to find B.
Ex. The phone rings at 3 A.M. Fearful, knowing that her father is seriously ill; Jane jumps
from bed to answer it.
A
C
D
B

1.

Phone Rings
Fearful
Jumps from bed to answer it
A phone call at 3 A.M. must be bad news about Dad
(What do you think that Jane Believes to cause her to feel fearful (C) and to jump
out of bed (D)?

Mom has taken the children on a picnic by the lake. As she spreads the meal, her
toddler follows the older children toward the water. Fearful that something tragic
could happen, she races after the child.
A
C
D
B

2.

At the end of a hard day, John hasnt finished his boss assignment. He is convinced
that he will lose his job if it isnt finished. He is so worried that he stays long after
closing time to finish it.
A
C
Page | 43

2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

D
B
3.

Joe decides that he wants to take Mary, the beautiful cheerleader captain, to the prom.
He is so nervous that she might refuse him that he stammers as he asks her to go with
him.
A
C
D
B

4.

Turning onto your street, you see smoke from near the location of your house. Fearful
that your house may be on fire, you speed up.
A
C
D
B

5.

The Smith family went camping. When little Suzy heard that there were bears around,
she was too afraid to sleep alone and crawled into her mothers sleeping bag.
A
C
D
B

Record 3 personal experiences by writing the ACDBs in each one. Make sure that your C
and D have the same emotional strength. At this point choose light experiences to record.
Experience

A
C
D
B

Experience

A
C
D
B

Page | 44
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Experience

A
C
D
B

Quiz
1.

The 4 parts of an emotion are:


A
C
D
B

2.

Explain an abbreviated emotion.

True/False
3.____

The three phases of sanctification are definitive, progressive, and realized.

4.____

Our feelings are so powerful that it is impossible to control them.

5.____

Often it is believed that feelings are more important than thoughts.

6.____

Others can hurt us physically, but cant hurt our feelings unless we allow it.

Page | 45
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Chapter 4 Brain Waves and Works


What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the
sun? Ecclesiastes 2:22
We do not need more metal detectors in schools but more mental directors. The way kids
think leads to either peace or violence. G. Sweeten
Our brain may be the most complicated organ ever produced in the universe. It contains
billions of cells and does complex parallel deductions that include the past, the present and
the future in a millionth of a second. Our brain can be our friend or it can be a very
troublesome member. When it works well, we feel good, have energy, focus, and manage
our lives rather well. However, when the brain suffers damage or gets out of sorts our
entire life is affected negatively.
Here is the good news. Despite its complexity, the brain is malleable. The past and present
are not predictive of the future. Yes, we may have suffered or still suffer from depression,
anxiety. or angry outburst, but there is hope for change. We can actually alter how the brain
works by taking some ongoing simple steps to renew our thinking.
With God all things are possible. Despite this biblical promise many Christians experience
little or no success removing chronic emotional problems despite working long and
praying. They are exhausted and discouraged with the experience of daily pain. Books,
tapes, healing prayers and sermons, and attempts at living a perfect life have all failed. The
result is an emotional state worse now than before they began trying to change.
But, there is hope for change and a joyful life. We continue to be hopeful because we know
thousands of men and women who have successfully recovered from emotional problems,
addictions, and past trauma. It requires hard work and big changes but once started, it gets
easier to keep going.
Although you do not need to be an expert on and how the brain works, a very basic
working model of this complex organ can facilitate personal healing and change. In the
following pages, I try to take some of the mystery out of how to make small, but significant
Page | 46
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

alterations in the thought patterns and thus our feelings. Much of what I am sharing comes
from experts like Dr. Daniel Amen, a Medical Doctor and Psychiatrist who has studied the
brain for decades. Dr. Andrew Newberg, a Neurologist whose research focus is how God
can change the brain is also a source of these ideas.
But we do not need to be a brain expert to find more peace and contentment. The following
scripture was written at least 2000 years ago, yet it is as contemporary as the widely
acclaimed counseling model Cognitive Behavior Theory. CBT has been helpful in defeating
anxiety and depression, the most common emotional problems.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7
According to McGill Universitys web http://www.thebrain.mcgill.ca the brain comprises
several different kinds of memory. The hippocampus and the cortex make explicit,
conscious memories possible. For its part, the amygdala enables one of the forms of
implicit memory: emotional memories associated with fear.
Various aspects of an emotional situation such as a car accident will be processed both by
the hippocampus and the amygdala working in parallel. Thanks to the hippocampus, you
will remember who you were with, what you did, and the fact that it was a particularly
painful situation. It is the amygdala that causes our palms to sweat, our heart to race, and
our muscles to get tense. The graphic below will help explain the various parts of the brain
and how they function.
Brain System: Graphic 1.
Cerebral Cortex

Amygdala

The amygdala is that small red structure in this brain graphic. Its name comes from the
Latin word almond because it is about that size. As with most other brain structures, we
actually have two amygdalae. The amygdalae are essential to our ability to feel certain
emotions and to perceive them in other people. This includes fear and the changes it causes
Page | 47
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

in the body. If you were being followed by a shady individual late at night your amygdala
would get very active and warn you of danger! It would make your heart pound and your
emotions go on high alert. This tiny system is your friend in those situations.
In fact, the amygdala seems to modulate all of our reactions to events that are important for
survival. Perceptions of imminent danger stimulate the amygdala to send signals to the
body and soul. It is our early warning system to detect and warn us about threats. But that
is not all it does. The amygdala also picks up the presence of food, possible sex partners,
rivals, children in distress, etc. The amygdala is our RADAR system.
When we sense danger, it helps us react almost instantly. Sometimes the reaction is so
rapid that we have a startle reflex even before we realize what has frightened us. A warning
starts with a sensory stimulus, such as a menacing sound. All information captured by the
senses, must be routed first to the thalamus. The thalamus sends the message on to the
visual or auditory cortex, which evaluates it and assigns it a meaning. If it is seen as a threat
the amygdala is informed and produces an emotional response.
But some messages are transferred directly to the amygdala without passing through the
cortex. This second route is shorter and faster, so we can protect ourselves with a very
rapid reaction. It allows us to be instantly reactive to the slightest threat by taking a short
cut to the amygdala.
Short and Long Warnings Graph 2.

Unfortunately, the short cut provides only a crude discrimination of what events are
threatening and what events are not. We can make many mistakes in these situations
because we may think there is danger when there is not. This is what happens to some
veterans when they come home from combat. A super sensitive early warning system is
necessary to survive on the battlefield. A combat trained soldiers brain becomes extremely
sensitive to the slightest possible threat. This kind of sensitivity is a liability in civilian life.
The early warning RADAR system in the brain cannot tell if a sudden noise is a hostile

Page | 48
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

threats or nothing to worry about, but can lead erroneously to rage or other dangerous
behavior.
The cortex provides a factual confirmation of a threat or harmless noise a fraction of a
second after the amygdala has caused us to startle. It lets us know whether the noise is
dangerous or safe. A fraction of a second could be fatal if the danger is a sniper or bomb. If
the cortex says there is nothing to worry about, we have merely had a good scare.
People with a hyper active amygdala can be over reactive to events that are benign or even
helpful. Highly reactive people can have inappropriate and embarrassing melt downs. Just
after the Korean War ended I was chatting with a veteran after he returned from combat. A
car passed on the highway and made a loud noise, and Andy, without saying a word
dropped to the rocky parking lot and put his hands over his head in a protective manner.
We were stunned, wondering why he had done that. After getting up from the dirty ground
he sheepishly said it sounded like incoming artillery so he hit the ground. It was a
necessary action on the battlefield, but seemed silly to me when he did it back home. I was
ignorant of how the traumatized brain works and my judgment was wrong.
We could say that the Cortex tends to focus on facts and the amygdala/limbic system
responds with feelings. A perceived threat causes an immediate reaction of Fight, Flight or
Freeze. God created us to blink not think when danger is imminent. Andy blinked
emotionally and physically. His brain reacted automatically and appropriately to the noise
he thought was an incoming rocket. In war quickness is critical to survival.
If the threat requires self-defense, we automatically react with readiness to Fight. Our eyes
will focus, the muscles get ready for defense and our energy level moves up. When Flight is
wise we can fall to the ground, run or climb a tree. In Americas pioneer days, facing threats
required an immediate and dramatic reaction to either Fight or Flight. I recently read an
account about a frightening Fight or Flight experience in the1860s. A woman was making
lye soap over an open fire near my home area in southern Illinois. Her husband was in the
garden when he heard her scream. She ran back into the house while he hurried over to the
kettle to be greeted by a snarling cougar.
The great cat crouched in readiness to leap on the farmer when he quickly grabbed a fistful
of the lye soap and tossed it into its face. As the attacker stopped to claw his eyes in pain
the quick thinking man picked up a limb from the fire and beat the cougar to death. Both of
these people were saved from harm by their well-developed limbic system. Their brains
were designed to protect them from perilous situations. She had the ability to escape in
Flight and he had the strength and quickness to Fight.

Page | 49
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Modern Threats
Lions and other wild animals rarely threaten us today. Even so, our Limbic system
continues to do its duty and detects threats, stresses and problems. At a threat it sends a
warning message to our bodies to Fight or Flee. (Graph 2.) Our bodies and emotions react
with automatic fear and stress even when there is no physical danger. Sometimes we
perceive nasty people, traffic jams, noisy kids and nagging spouses to be an enemy and the
Limbic System gets all stirred up ready to Fight or Flee.
Over time, even simple stresses can cause the Limbic System to over react and become
hyper sensitive, almost like vets with PTSD. A stressed out Limbic System cannot discern
the difference between a real threat and a harmless interaction. When we are constantly by
violence on TV, weather warnings, news stories, noise, traffic and droughts in Africa we can
develop an over stimulated Limbic System. If every time I drive to work or hear my child
has a meltdown I get agitated and upset, it stimulates my amygdala and keeps it revved up
clouding its ability to distinguish false threats from real ones. God promised perfect peace,
but in order to get it we need to get healed from limbic trauma.
Functions of the Amygdala/Limbic System
o Sets the emotional tone of the mind
o Filters external events through internal states (emotional coloring)
o Tags events as internally important
o Stores highly charged emotional memories
o Modulates motivation
o Controls appetite and sleep cycles
o Promotes bonding
o Directly processes the sense of smell
o Modulates libido
Problems of the Limbic System
o Moodiness, irritability, clinical depression
o Increased negative thinking
o Perceive neutral and positive events in a negative way
o Decreased motivation
o Flood of negative emotions
o Appetite and sleep problems
o Decreased or compulsive sexual responsiveness
o Social isolation
o Bitterness
The Limbic System can hold on to old feelings and develop habitual over reactions. My trips
to Asia illustrate how an emotional habit can develop into a negative physical reaction.
Singapore was a British Colony so cars travel on the left side of the highway. I know that

Page | 50
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

fact in my cortex but my limbic system was developed and habitualized in the USA where
we drive on the right side of the road.
Everything within me emotionally says that driving on the left side is wrong and
dangerous. When I am riding in an automobile in Singapore, I wince as other cars seem to
come right toward us on our side of the highway. When I cross the street I must first stop
and make sure that I look the opposite direction of my normal habit to see if an auto is
approaching. Caleb Chan saved my life by pulling me back from crossing the road. I looked
the wrong direction and was nearly hit by a speeding car.
I know that cars drive on the left side, but the facts do not seem emotionally true to me
and I often forgot to look the other way. In my Perception, there was no danger so I
automatically and habitually react as though I am still in the USA. This is called Limbic Lag
and we all suffer from its effects. This kind of automatic, unthinking reactivity is usually
harmless, but it can lead to problems in relationships.
Limbic Lag causes relational conflicts when we react to others as though they are a danger
and they are not. For example, a young wife I counseled was extremely defensive when her
husband made comments about her looks, romance or sex. She reacted with anger to his
normal desire for intimacy. After listening to her, I discovered that she had been sexually
traumatized as a child. The abuse left her with an over reactive Limbic System, especially
concerning men and sex.
Limbic Lag can also contribute to a persons self-sabotage. This occurs when the internal
dialogue of self-talk dwells on past hurts or on possible assaults in the future. The way we
talk to ourselves has an enormous effect on our Limbic System. It can either soothe it or
cause more trauma. Self-talk is a big cause of our feelings and behavior. I am thankful it is
one thing we can develop some control over.
Traumatized Limbic System
Persons, who experience Shock, Trauma, and Abuse usually, develop an overactive limbic
systems or an agitated amygdala. Some people have become so suspicious that they
mistrust almost everyone. They have become reactive to any stimulus that is remotely
dangerous. Imagine that your reactivity ranges from zero to ten with zero being perfect
peace and ten being extremely reactive.
Adult children of abusive and/or neglectful parents may develop limbic reactivity that is
very high, around 7 or 8. They live daily with a hyperactive sense of danger, rejection or
attack. Such a reactive emotional and physical state leads them to experience emotional
trauma from even minor events and from their own thoughts. I later teach that hopeless
self-talk is a major source of re-traumatizing old wounds. The way we ruminate on
personal problems can be more traumatizing than the original hurt. In our next course we
Page | 51
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

cover inner healing prayer to remove the pain of the initial wounds. However, learning how
the brain works is a necessary preparation for prayer therapy. It helps us prevent deeply
wounded Seekers from re-traumatizing themselves.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm
139:23
When the Limbic System experiences trauma to three or four, we will very likely have a
positive, hopeful state of mind. When it has been traumatized to five or six, we may have
trouble not reacting negativity to daily events. Research on depression has borne this out.
Due to emotional shading, the Limbic System provides the filter through which we see and
interpret events of the day. It colors daily events depending on my mental emotional state.
When we are saddled with an overactive limbic system we are more likely to interpret
neutral events through a negative lens.
For example, a neutral or positive conversation with a person whose deep limbic structure
is overactive or negatively set is likely to interpret the conversation in a negative way.
When the brain is cool or functions properly, a neutral or positive interpretation of events
is more likely to occur. A negative shading means that the person reacts with hurt, anger or
fear to a neutral conversation.
PMS is a classic example of emotional shading. Within 5-10 days before the onset of the
menstrual cycle the limbic system becomes negatively active with the drop in hormones.
This limbic activation colors events in a more negative way. During the first week of a
womans cycle she may treat her man with love and affection, and almost anything he does
seems to be right. Ten days before her period things can become dramatically different.
She doesnt want to be touched and develops a combination of a scowl and dont mess with
me. Little her man does is right. She sees most events in a negative way. One wife said to
her man, Please give me a reason to scratch your eyes out. Then a few days after her new
cycle started, she was back to being positive, loving and affectionate. This is confusing to
both partners.
Over activity in this area seems to be associated with lowered motivation and drive, which
is often seen in depression. The Limbic System controls the sleep and appetite cycles of the
body. Healthy sleep and appetite are essential to maintaining a proper sense of well-being.
Sleep issues and a poor appetite can arise from limbic trauma. This is why depression,
anxiety and sleepless nights go together.
Love, Sex and the Limbic System
Limbic activity is significantly decreased after sexual pleasure. Orgasm has been described
as a mini-seizure of the Limbic System and tends to release limbic activity. Sexual activity is

Page | 52
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

good for the bonded human brain so when we are having couples conflict, romance can be
healthy and bring peace to our hearts and relationships.
Whenever two persons have sex, neurochemical changes occur in both their brains. These
chemicals cause limbic, emotional bonding. Limbic bonding is the reason casual sex doesn't
really work well. Two people may decide to have sex just for the fun of it, yet something
occurs on another level that they did not plan. Sex places emotional bonds with two people
that are hard to break. Attachments are formed and deep hurt occurs when the sexual
relationship ends.
It is usually the woman that suffers the most because the females limbic system, in
comparison to the rest of her brain, is larger than that of a man. Thus, she is more likely to
get connected and be emotionally reactive to an uncaring relationship. For thousands of
years Gods laws and social conventions protected women from this kind of suffering.
Every society has had strict rules against promiscuity. However, since Womens Liberation
in the Seventies, many females have engaged in promiscuous sex as much as men. The
results have been emotionally devastating for females.
Losing a spouse is traumatic in a different way than losing any other type of loved one.
Once you have made love with a person, having the connection broken through death can
be extraordinarily painful because there is a deep limbic connection. The spouse has
become part of the chemical bond of that part of the brain and it takes time for that bond to
dissolve. Your deep limbic system misses the person's touch, voice and smell. As scripture
says in I Cor 6:15-20:
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the
members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you
not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He
says, "The two shall become one flesh."
But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every
other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his
own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in
you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been
bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body
Females, on average, have a larger Limbic System than males causing each to possess
strengths and weaknesses. Women are usually more in touch with their feelings and are
generally better able to express them than men. They have an increased ability to bond and
connect to others. This is why women are the caretakers for children. There is no society on
earth where men are primary caretakers for children.
But, this strength also leaves a female more susceptible to depression. This is especially
true at times of significant hormonal changes at the onset of puberty, before menses, after
Page | 53
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

the birth of a child and at menopause. Women attempt suicide three times more often than
men. Disconnection from others increases the risk of completed suicides. When the limbic
system is turned on, emotions tend to take over. When it is cooled down, more reflection
and analytical thought is possible in the cortex.
Divorce is a source of one of the most severe stresses possible. For many it causes more
anguish than death. People who are connected sexually and emotionally have a very
powerful bond. Women especially have trouble leaving a mate. They have had their
children with the man, shared their beds and their homes with them. To break a bond at
the core of their brain causes a severe rupture that can leave women feeling fragmented
and empty without the man. She may be plagued by sleep and appetite problems,
depression, irritability and social isolation.
Even if she initiates separation she will suffer great distress and may go through some
depression. The limbic bond that breaks is hard on everyone involved, including the
children. The one who is walking out the door may fail to realize this and not anticipate the
grief period that will likely follow.
Divorce and other broken separations of persons who have developed a deep emotional
relationship are devastating and often trigger vengefulness. Two people in a messy divorce
can be extremely cruel to each other. They may lose all sense of fairness and rationality and
do everything to hurt one another. Breaking the marital bond activates and agitates the
limbic system. People become depressed and negative taking every nuance the wrong way.
They fight and hate because they are too close to each other emotionally.
Dr. Martin Seligman says in his new book, Flourish, that the incidents of suicide among
American troops has been rising. The Armys research shows that a very high percentage of
them follow closely after a sexual relationship has been broken. This has led the Army to
develop programs to help the soldiers prepare for a break up and how to deal with it when
it happens.
It Aint CATS
The Limbic System, along with the temporal lobes store highly charged emotional
memories, both positive and negative. If you have been traumatized by a dramatic event,
such as a car accident or watching your house burn, or if you have been abused, the
emotional component of the memory is stored there.
On the other hand, emotional memories of winning the game, graduating magna cum laude,
or watching your childs birth, are also stored here. The total memory experience shades
the emotional tone of our life. The more stable, positive experiences we have the more
positive we are likely to feel. The more traumas in our lives the more emotionally set we

Page | 54
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

become to perceive the world in a negative way. The memories we built in the past are
intimately involved in the emotional understanding that occurs in the present.
This is why we need to work on supplying positive experiences for ourselves. The way we
interpret events is much more important than the events themselves. Bad things do happen
to good people. However, if good people interpret bad things through a hopeless, lens, good
people will feel badly no matter the real pain it caused.
The last few years we have heard stories about pastors and priests sexually assaulting
young people. This is a horrible crime and the people responsible need to be prosecuted.
However, we must be careful how we treat the victims. We need to communicate hope,
healing and change for the young men and women who were assaulted. If the sexual
assaults damaged the persons Limbic System at a level 4, treating them as hopeless victims
could raise the damage level to 8 or 9. Nothing is worse that promoting a self-victimization
belief system in the heads of victims. Such self-talk re-traumatizes the victim and may do
more harm than the original trauma.
This is why the lawsuits against the churches and church leaders are potentially damaging
to the victims. Attorneys often present the victims as permanently damaged in order to win
the lawsuit. They try to get a big settlement by convincing themselves, the courts and the
public that healing and change arent impossible. They tend to promote the notion that
every victim is damned to carry the damage eternally and that is not true. Those ideas are
false and can lead to greater damage to the victims.
We need to teach people that they can go from Victim to Victor. We want their self-talk to
provide emotional motivation to succeed. The Limbic System also affects motivation and
drive. It helps get you going in the morning and encourages you to act properly throughout
the day or it motivates us to be helpless, overwhelmed and quit.
Healing of Memories
Once there are problems in the deep limbic system and one of more of the above symptoms
crop up, we need to get help and implement positive changes. Thankfully, both scripture
and modern counseling have come to similar conclusions about ways the brain can be
changed and the limbic system can be healed. The Bible encourages us to use shock, trauma
and abuse as launching pads toward greater maturity. James 1 says:
2Consider

it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because
you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must
finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Trials can lead us to develop faith, perseverance and maturity. These are the core traits of
resilience, one of the great character strengths of a mature person. Almost every healthy,
Page | 55
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

active, person with a servant leadership mentality has suffered and recovered. In fact, Dr.
Martin Seligman suggests that protecting children from adversity and suffering is mentally
and emotionally harmful. I agree with him.
This book is dedicated to helping people change minds, hearts and Limbic Systems that
have been damaged by trauma or pessimistic self-talk. By listening to ourselves we can
discern the beliefs that are causing us so much trouble. There are some things we cannot
change, of course. We cannot change accidents, death and past trauma. However, we can
change the ways we perceive those events and how we talk to ourselves about them.
Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth
because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is
difficult - once we truly understand and accept it - then life is no longer difficult.
Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. Scott Peck
I am strongly committed to help people discover ways to enter into deep worship, rest in
Christ and move away from legalism, works, righteousness, and self-condemnation. Our
slogan is, Building a lifetime of great relationships.

Page | 56
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Chapter 5 Adversity and Anxiety to Misery APART


Irrational Thinking and Pessimism
"My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer because I am greatly disturbed - Job 20:2
6For

this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through
the laying on of my hands. 7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of
power, of love and of self-discipline. II Timothy 1

Do you find yourself being timid, fearful and anxious? Do you find it hard to be confident
and live with A spirit of love, power and a sound mind? You are not alone. Sadly,
depression and anxiety are on the rise among the affluent nations of the western world. Dr.
Martin Seligman says that the rates of Mood Disorders have increased dramatically since
the early 1900s. Estimates from the World Health Organization suggest that they are the
most costly of all human problems.
I could hardly believe the statistics. How can it be that we who live so much better lives
today than our great grandparents are more worried, anxious, and depressed than they?
We have so much and they had so limited medical innovations, creature comforts and
technology. The answers must lie in our minds and hearts, not in the surroundings, events
and society. Seligman suggests we are not as resilient today as they were one hundred
years ago.
Stress arises from inside us not from our surroundings. Every culture, society and nation
has suffered from calamities, wars, diseases, accidents and natural disasters. In fact, we live
in an era when these events are more buffered and interrupted than any people in history.
Solomon in all his glory and with all his palaces, wives, jewels and fancy robes was a pauper
compared to most every American. Even the poor live in prosperity compared to the kings
of long ago. So why are so many of us clinically sad, anxious and filled with guilt, shame and
low self-esteem?
Our unique perceptions can cause miscommunication and misunderstanding because they
can vary in accuracy from 0 to 100%. I say tomahto, you say tomato If we perceive that
the boss is critical of us, our automatic mental, emotional and physical reaction will become
defensive. If we perceive that others are attacking us, we will live in a state of emotional
Page | 57
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

distress. Our view of the world sets us up for either peace or pessimism. While dwelling on
the perceived attack by replaying it repeatedly in our self-talk long after it has passed, we
are left in a state of perpetual attack, because our ability to remember it with audio-video
clarity propels us into a state of continual upheaval and exhausting defensiveness.
Dr. Seligman is an expert at helping people understand the origin of low self-esteem and
sad feelings. His classic research found that depressed and anxious persons have some
things in common: For one, they share negative ways of thinking about life events. He calls
it Explanatory Style. (AA calls it stinking thinking.)
Such people have Belief Systems so filled with self-criticism and self-contempt that they do
not need any outside help to make them feel wretched. They are experts at that game. It
becomes a cycle of chronic anxiety, shame and defensiveness. Sadly, they may have
suffered trauma, significant or emotional neglect as children. Great pain such as divorce,
death or parental drug use planted a seed of self-condemnation in the heart. As a result,
Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) rise from that seed and provide the fruit of the flesh.
Stinking Thinking is an ongoing mental process that recycles bitterness on a daily basis
pushing the pain and Stinking Thinking far deeper than a thousand traumas.
Those who suffer from mood disorders and other mental lock-ups use their own minds to
allow Adversity to overcome them. They usually follow the acrostic: APART.
A-Adversity
P- Pessimistic Thinking
A-Anger
R- Ruminating self-talk
T- Traumatized Thinking
A Adversity is anything I do not appreciate. There are many things we do not like, so that
means that it is chronic, pervasive and lifelong. It comes to us in school, sports, marriage,
parenting, games, rejection, thoughts, etc. (Job 5:7). When adversity arrives, it is vital to
stop its downward spiral of Stinking Thinking. We must manage our thinking!
Some react by holding themselves totally to blame for every problem. They say Because of
my own personal flaws I am drawing problems to me. And, my flaws are powerful,
pervasive and permanent. This is a perfect recipe for Hopelessness, Haplessness and
Helplessness and leads to long-term sadness, anxiety, depression, anger, and frustration.
Page | 58
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

This is the preferred thinking style of the habitually pessimist and must be changed in order
to find peace.
On the other hand, when adversity is assumed to be something from which it is possible to
recover, normal feelings of sadness and frustration are soon overcome. Adversity can
cause energy loss and pain, but a Hopeful person bounces back whereas the Hopeless
person does not.
How does a Hopeless, Pessimistic Person handle Adversity? With a lot of Ps!
The first P - Personal Flaws: I say to myself that the adversity occurred because of my
personal flaws and imperfections. That can lead to doubt that I even belong in Gods family.
One young man said that he was depressed because he knew he was just like his father, a
drug addict. He said in a plaintive voice: I cant win. I am marked for life as a failure. My
wife tells me that almost every day.
Gary: Do you agree with her?
Man: Yes, I do agree with her.
This is Hopelessly Pessimistic Thinking that leads to depression and anxiety.
The second P Pervasive: We assume that our personal flaws are Pervasive or all
encompassing. The man above believed that every area of his life was marked for failure
because he was Just like his father. No wonder he felt terrible and was driven to drink and
drugs! It was an effort to relieve his pain. But people in pain often make bad decisions and
find only poor solutions. The drug use also confirmed his Stinking Thinking and reinforced
his wifes nagging. The root of his pain was not his father or his wife, but his own
Pessimistic Hopeless thinking, which was coming from his self-talk.
The third P Permanent: A pessimistic belief system is fixated on personal flaws that are
pervasive and permanent. No change allowed! Permanent Hopelessness means we are
Predestined for misery! Nothing can stop it! On top of all these lies, the devil declares you
are finished. We are Humpty Dumpty who cannot be put back together again - ever.
Anger is next in the downward cycle. A belief system filled with the pessimism of the Ps
will lead naturally to anguish and usually erupts as anger. The anguish /anger is sometimes
aimed at others - even a golf ball - but ends up back at self - the one with the Personal
Flaws that are Pervasive and Permanent. Therefore, that awful self must be attacked and
Page | 59
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

beaten down. Some of the harshest words ever spoken to any person come from our own
mind and are aimed at ourselves
R Rumination: Rumination is the Killer App of self-talk. A simple mistake like flubbing a
golf swing can lead to a day of misery if ruminating is allowed. Reviewing the stroke over
and over, watching the flight of the ball, seeing it splash into the water and disappear. The
mood gets worse and worse as the replays go to that high-quality audio-video player in the
head that we call the brain. With each ruminating thought the sad, anxious feelings get
worse until we finally sink into total despair.
Rumination is negative meditation. The Bible clearly suggests that we need to both pray
with petition and praise, but also meditate. Scripture doesnt say to meditate / ruminate on
catastrophe, pain and disaster. We are to meditate on whatever is good, pure and holy,
gracious, merciful and loving. (Philippians 4:8)
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me? Psalm 13:2
T Traumatizing self: No one is able to damage the heart and soul as badly and deeply
and permanently as we hurt ourselves! There is a lot of talk about trauma and abuse from a
bully. I strongly agree with the need to stop all kinds of bullying, child abuse and violence.
However, we can traumatize ourselves 100 times as deeply by ruminating on the negative
messages we say to ourselves about the adverse events that come along. The words of
others cannot do us lasting damage unless we ruminate on them. As the Bible says, Life or
death is in the tongue. If we choose to listen to our own negative ruminating, death of the
soul is the result.
Self-Traumatization leads to black and white thinking which is separate from reality.
This means everything is either wonderful or terrible; there is no middle ground, no gray,
and no balance. The mood following a poor golf shot is not simply unhappy, but misery that
can last for hours and days. It is normal and healthy to feel badly after losing a game or
making a bad shot. However, misery by awfulizing is not normal and it is self-inflicted. No
golf ball ever made me feel awful, but I have chosen to allow a replay of bad shots to cause
me to be angry and upset for hours.
Here is the good news: Pessimists can change! Hopelessness can be turned around and let
Hope emerge. The brain is a wonderful organ capable of being reformed over and over
continuously and permanently. We can choose to learn, change and grow until the day we
die. Anxious, pessimistic people intuitively allow Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) to
Page | 60
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

make them miserable. Hopeless people have trained their brains to think negatively.
Pessimistic, self-talk about life can only change with brain work. AA discovered the pain of
stinking thinking. They know that no amount of encouragement or truth from external
sources can change those internal lies. We must decide to make a radical change in our own
self-talk.
David knew the power of ANTS could disturb both his sleep and his waking hours. He
called upon God to hear and answer his desperate prayers.
Hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
Psalm 55:2
Evaluating my Self Talk
The basis of our approach to renewing the mind and moving from Hopelessness to Hopeful
Power Christian Thinking is the ABCD approach to understanding my thoughts, feelings
and behaviors.
Activating Events are filtered through our Belief System that causes my brain and body to
immediately react with Consequential Feelings and Decisive Behaviors. The brain God gave
us operates extremely fast to calculate threats based on assumptions of past events. It is
often wrong and automatically sends danger signals to the emotional seat of the brain and
body without going through the analytical part of the Belief System. Thus, most of life is
ACD: Activating Events going immediately to Consequential Feelings and Decisive Behavior.
We may understand Beliefs later as we think about why we reacted so strongly. .
If that were not bad enough, any of us who have suffered from past conflicts, trauma and,
stress develop an ACD highway of painful, reactive emotions that is broad and deep. These
well-worn pathways cause the brain to automatically sense danger and promote defensive
feelings and reactions. This can happen even when there is only warm, caring concern. One
day at church a couple met me after the service and insisted on seeing me right then to
discuss their overwhelming pain.
After getting to my office and sitting down, Iris began to weep and say she could no longer
put up with the oppression and abuse of her husband. He looked very surprised and
watched as she described his thoughtless, angry and repressive actions. As she went on and
on about the pain of his rejection and attacks I was wondering what to do. She suddenly
turned to me and shouted, Why dont you stop him from doing that? You are just sitting
Page | 61
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

there watching and not doing anything to make him stop looking at me in that hateful
manner.
Her anger toward me as well as her husband was surprising. To me he looked puzzled and
shocked by her rant but not angry or hateful. However, I did not try to tell her she was
wrong. She was already mad at me as well. It was obvious that she was fully convinced of
his anger, rejection and hatred and we cannot change another persons perceptions
directly, but it was plain that her misery was largely colored by her own Belief System and
internal self-talk. The challenge was to help her evaluate her Beliefs and see if they were
accurate, logical, rational, and based on hope, not hopelessness.
As a footnote, to Christian Educators and Pastors, this incident is why we prefer to teach
every person in our congregation these principles. We discovered that the best way to
prevent marriage conflicts and mood disorders is to have adult classes in the care and cure
of the Christian soul. In German it is called, seelsorge or soul care. In education it is psycho
education.
In this instance prevention was too late, for this lady and her husband both needed cure or
healing for their souls. How could we accomplish that goal? I first suggested that they she
visit with one of our Lay Helpers for support and prayer. I also suggested that they both
take the Power Christian Thinking class. I hoped she would see how to change her Stinking
Thinking. Second, I recommended that they see a well-trained couples counselor that could
help them talk things through and resolve their issues.
Over the next three years the lady had deep healing from childhood abuse. She learned to
renew her mind and overcame her deep suspicion of men. The man learned to listen to his
wife and show real care for her not just a cool engineering demeanor. They read our
materials, attended healing prayer sessions and went to marriage and family retreats to
learn how to relate as male and female. The marriage was saved and their emotional,
spiritual health improved, but it took a long time because the wounds were so deep.

Examples of Toxic Language and Stinking Thinking


Over the years we have discovered, along with Dr. Seligman, ways to talk to ourselves that
cause us real emotional, spiritual and physical problems. We will identify some of the most
powerfully toxic words and ideas that tend to cause us to fall into Pessimism and
Hopelessness. They have provided new ways to assist people to evaluate their Belief
Systems and stop Stinking Thinking ANTS.
Page | 62
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Attention must be paid to four of the items in the Belief System: memories, evaluations,
self-talk, and perceptions. Since unique, personal perceptions represent such a great part of
the Belief System, understanding our perceptions and checking them for accuracy is
essential to renewing my mind. Perception is a way of viewing things. Most of us have
developed ways to perceive events as positive, negative or neutral. Most of us think our
unique perceptions are factual reality even though others see another reality in the same
events.
For example, as I write this the Super Bowl has been played and many of us attended
parties with friends and relatives. There was a lot to eat and drink, but not everyone will
perceive everything offered at the party to be desirable.
Imagine that at your party a large, double chocolate cake is sitting on the kitchen table.
That the cake is there, free for the taking is a fact. Three people walk over to the table to get
dessert and look at the cakes and other offerings. One guy has a positive reaction and takes
the largest piece and says, I love chocolate cake!
His wife had a negative reaction to the cake and says, Just looking at that cake makes me a
bit sick to my stomach. The last time I ate chocolate I had an upset stomach. Their son is
sort of neutral and says, Well, I am on a low carb diet and although chocolate is pretty
good I am going to pass on it. All three of them observe the same cake and perceive it
differently. One is positive, one negative, and one is neutral.
In the story about the couple I saw at church, the wife saw her husbands behavior as
negative. He saw it as positive or neutral. There is a saying among counselors that the
biggest cause of hurtful arguments is not a difference over the answer to a question, but the
lack of agreement over the question. Because such radically different views of reality occur
in families and churches, we have toxic conflicts, divorce and hard feelings. When we
mistake our unique perceptions for facts and make decisions based upon perceptions as
though they were facts we can get ourselves into trouble. Here is our approach to partially
solving this chronic problem.
1. Facts are not debatable, but perceptions are. Often our conclusions, judgments, and
self-talk are based on perceptions rather than facts. Perceptions need to be
identified as our personal views and not stated as facts that cannot be questions, but
need to be checked out with reality.
2. Learn how to separate perceptions from facts. Perceptions are formed in our minds
and are true to us, but arent necessarily objective facts.
Page | 63
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

3. Agree that our perceptions can be accurate or inaccurate. Newberg and other
researchers have found that the brain is not very interested in facts. It generally just
gives us information that we have learned will help us survive. If our brain has been
programmed to see danger in the slightest difference in opinion we will react
defensively not factually.
4. Try to align our perceptions with facts (objective reality).
We can think about facts and my reality in the following manner. All FACTS observed by me
lead to MY UNIQUE PERCEPTIONS and lead to WHAT IS TRUTH TO ME and lead to MY
REALITY. This entire activity takes place in my mind in a millisecond because my brain is a
super computer in speed, but not very accurate about facts.

Facts versus Perception


In the sentences below write F for fact and P for perception.
1.

My husband is handsome. _____

2.

The house has brick siding. _____

3.

Today is hot. _____

4.

The temperature is 97 degrees. _____

5.

Everything takes longer than you expect. _____

6.

Bald is beautiful._____

7.

The book has 297 pages._____

8.

My car gets 25 mpg in town._____

9.

If anything can go wrong, it will._____

10.

Cleanliness is next to godliness._____

11.

Soccer is played with a round ball._____

12.

My husband never talks to me. _____

13.

My wife talks too much._____

14.

Apples taste better than oranges._____


Page | 64

2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Using I statements usually helps facilitate harmonious interpersonal relationships by


owning my own stuff. It tends to say to others, I am responsible for my ideas. I am secure
enough to let you know how I think and feel. It is helpful to use terms such as, In my
view, or, I perceived the situation like this to let others know that I am not dogmatic or
arrogant. Many conflicts can be avoided if we admit that there may be a difference between
the facts and our perceptions of those facts. By admitting our own perceptions with the use
of tentative phrases, more open relationships can be built. Conflicts often arise over the
tone and insistence of a view more than the view itself.
For example, a wife challenges her husband to stop looking at her in that angry way. He is
offended and defensively denies that he is wrong.
She:
He:
She:
He:
She:

Quit looking at me in that angry way!


Im not looking angry!
Yes. You are! Admit it!
I am not! I know how Im looking! Dont you try to tell me how Im looking!
Now youre really angry. If you werent already angry you wouldnt be angry
now!

The episode may have been avoided if either of them had made tentative statements.
She:
He:
She:
He:

Quit looking at me in that angry way.


I didnt realize I looked like that. I thought that I was being serious. I
apologize for looking angry.
Well, you sure looked angry to me.
Im sorry. I wasnt aware how I appeared to you.

One of the best ways to prevent conflicts is to clarify our unique, personal values, thoughts,
insights, or opinions. Persons who readily identify and own their perceptions by using
tentative statements usually have few misunderstandings and are perceived as successful
leaders. Examples of tentative statements:
o
o
o
o
o
o

In my view
It is my perception
As I see it
I thought that
It is my opinion
It looks to me like

At this point in time, I think I think this is true. Pastor Charlie McMahan
Page | 65
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Think of a discussion in which you and another person disagreed about what you perceived
as the fact. For example, Dr. Alice Petersen once spoke about the Fatherhood of God. She
perceived the idea of God as father to be very positive and comforting. However, several
students in the class reacted negatively to her teaching. Upon discussion she discovered
that a few of the adult females perceived their fathers as a harsh, cold, or absent figure.
Their perceptions of the Heavenly Father as a good role model and their perceptions were
on opposite poles. Alice took into consideration in her next teachings.
Exercise 1
Are there some images, symbols, or ideas that you perceive in an emotionally loaded
manner?
Do you remember an incident or two in which your perception differed from someone
elses?
What was the actual fact?
What perceptions did you each hold?
Describe what happened and how it was resolved.
I know that you think you understand what I said, but I am not sure you understand that
what I said is not what I meant. Anonymous
When Shoulds and Oughts are Barriers
We can sometimes discover pessimistic thoughts simply by observing the words we use in
normal conversation and self-talk. The words should and ought are high on the list of
troublesome expressions. When used inappropriately, these perception words can cause us
to feel anxiety, condemnation, and shame. It is necessary to integrate this principle of
hopeless thinking into a Christian framework. The word ought comes from the Greek word
ophilo which means to owe; a debt to pay. The thrust is not intended to lead the believer
into an externally imposed box of laws but to make clear the grace and mercy of a Christian
commitment. The oughts of Scripture are not my work for salvation or to insure it, but
because of that which we have already received in salvation. The Scriptural oughts are
positive. Our choice is whether or not to fulfill them, realizing that we will experience the
consequences of our choices.
Page | 66
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Thousands of people have found freedom and joy as they removed inappropriate uses of
shoulds and oughts from their self-talk and discussions. However, it needs to be
understood that there are some uses of these terms that are appropriate and proper. The
statements following are taken from Scripture and are examples of how these terms can be
used healthily.
John 13:14 Now that I have washed your feet (set an example for you) you also
should wash one anothers feet (do as I have done for you ).
Romans 15:1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not
to please ourselves.
Ephesians 5:28 Even so, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.
I John 2:6 - he who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He
walked.
I John 3:16 By this we know love, that He laid down His own life for us; and we ought
to lay down our lives for the brethren.
I John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Inappropriately using shoulds and oughts tend to be used as Stinking Thinking canes to
beat us into submission. We tend to use them as being equal to the Ten Commandments
and become universal laws of graceless, merciless judgments. The problems arise when our
shoulds and oughts are placed on the same level of authority as Gods laws.
The hopeless use of should/ought is usually used as an irrational demand in a cause and
effect situation. If a child spills his milk on the new carpet we say: That milk shouldnt be
on the floor. This is an irrational and impossible statement. It is not based on facts.
The child turned his glass of milk over and gravity did the rest. It would be factual to say,
The milk is on the rug because gravity and the accident put it there. That is the cause and
effect fact. These kinds of irrational should and ought statements are dangerous to our
mental and spiritual health. Anyone that hears them would be emotionally placed in an
impossible position. It is a double bind message.
Irrational shoulds and oughts demand that things be different from the way they actually
are. Hopeful thinking accepts reality as it exists right now. It does not state that factual
reality should be different than it is. Shoulds and oughts are terms that are usually used to
cover up personal wants and demands or personal perceptions of right and wrong. My
personal ideas and demands are in the hidden Belief System. For example, after eating a
piece of the chocolate cake we mentioned above, cake you may say I shouldnt have eaten
Page | 67
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

that piece of cake. What that usually means, I loved the cake, but dislike the fact that it is
not good for my diet. I wish I had not eaten the cake. The statement, I shouldnt have
eaten the cake, is actually a refusal to accept responsibility for eating it. By removing the
shouldnt have eaten forces us to face the reality of our actions. Responsibility for the
decision to eat it was mine. I went through all of the motions necessary to eat cake, so
logically it should have been eaten.
Irrational shoulds and oughts can keep us from achieving our goals. They are demands that
cannot be fulfilled. Shoulds and oughts can easily lead to conflict. Most of us do not like to
be told that we should or should not do something. It is a good example of a door
slammer to successful relationships. People generally do not like to be pressured or
parented, as if they were children unable to make their own decisions.
The use of shoulds implies that there is no solution because the situation should never have
existed in the first place. This kind of verbal command places us in a double bind. It leads to
inefficient and ineffective behavior. The feelings that often come with shoulds are shame,
guilt, rejection, and anger which, over a long term, can lead to depression. Angry and
depressed people usually have Belief Systems and self-talk filled with shoulds and oughts
that exert pressure to perform impossible acts and increases sadness and hopelessness.
The use of shoulds and oughts in my self-talk is a way of refusing to take ownership for my
behavior. When reality is freely faced, forgiveness and mercy can be extended. Shoulds and
oughts reinforce the defense mechanism of denial which is a difficult barrier to overcome
when attempting to help people deal effectively with mental, emotional, or behavioral
problems.
Shoulds and oughts in self-talk places us in a no win Catch 22 position from which we
cannot escape. They make demands which are impossible to comply. The statement that I
should not have eaten the cake makes an impossible demand on me. It can only bring
failure, shame and false guilt. First, it is focused on an act that has already occurred and I
cannot change it. Second, the guilt associated with failing to follow the demand is
impossible to release. It would be awkward to say, I confess that I violated the law of
should not. Since the statement is irrational and impossible to attain, it is full of
hopelessness. I can never be forgiven and released from its penalty. I am trapped in feelings
of chronic guilt and shame.
Replacing Toxic Shoulds and Oughts
Most of us have lived with and repeatedly used these and other toxic statements for
decades. Our Belief System and habits of speech are full of them. This means we are very
likely faced with a long road to make positive changes. However, thousands are
successfully changing so there is hope for all of us. We can start today by thinking and
talking honestly by Speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:17).
Page | 68
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

We can choose to say something like, I wish I had not eaten the cake, but I did. In fact, I
consumed it gladly and loved it, but now I am thinking about the consequences. This kind
of statement allows us to face our choices frankly. I can deal with any guilt by admitting my
behavior and asking for forgiveness. Eating cake is not a sin against God but it may violate
my desire to eat less fat and sugar. By admitting my behavior I can find relief. When we say
we should not have behaved wrongly in the first place, we deny responsibility. Denial
precludes the possibility of receiving forgiveness. Our dietary shoulds and oughts make
natural desires sound as if they are laws of God when they are just our normal needs.
This is also true when we should on others. To say, You should not drive too fast removes
their personal responsibility. It is more logical to say, You may drive any speed you wish,
but driving over the speed limit is against the law. Or, we might say, Speeding is common,
but dangerous. You have the choice to do what you think is right.
Parents often should children: You shouldnt speak to me that way. I suggest it is better to
say I dont want you to speak to me that way. I do not like it and it hurts my feelings.
By teaching a child with shoulds such as, Jim, you should speak more clearly We indicate
that speaking clearly is from God or a universal law rather than something that can bring
more happiness to the child. We could say Jim, I would appreciate it if you spoke more
clearly so I could understand you better.
Instead of, Jenny, you shouldnt wear those clothes to school, you might say, Jenny, I
dont think those clothes are appropriate for school.
These phrases replace You statements with I statements and replace toxic shoulds and
oughts with statements that focus on personal responsibility.
Exercise 2
Part 1 of 2:
Below are some examples of shoulds and oughts that are used inappropriately. Beneath
each example, write statements that are more consistent with reality. For example, You
should be home by midnight, can be changed to, I want you home by midnight.
1.

I should do everything right the first time.

2.

Children always ought to obey their parents.

3.

I should get better grades.

4.

You should take out the garbage.

Page | 69
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

5.

I ought to be able to accomplish this task.

Part 2 of 2:
Consider the statements that you make to yourself. Are there shoulds and oughts you use
habitually? In the following space, list as many as you can recall.
1. I often say to myself
2. I often say to myself
3. I often say to myself
4. I often say to myself
5. I often say to myself
Proverbs 18:21 states, Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Examine your most
frequent relationships and identify those with whom you use shoulds and oughts. Shoulds
and oughts often contain elements of control and power over others. Prayerfully discern
whether you use these terms more often with people over whom you wish to have
authority. Jesus said, You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32).
Owning your behavior, calling it what it is, and coming out from behind the protective
barriers of shoulds and oughts is part of facing the truth that sets us free.
Other Barriers to Power Thinking
Another negative phrase that brings us trouble is WHAT IF? Anxiety often arises from
these two little words. In fact, they can drive any of us into fear, and worry. Unanswered
WHAT IFs? lead to indecision and Ruminations about disasters. What if I do this and it
doesnt work out? What if I dont do it? I cant decide. These kind of ruminating thoughts
are paralyzing not freeing. They are the fertilizer on which depression and anxiety feed and
trap us into inaction.
The hidden belief behind a WHAT IF? statement is a powerful and pessimistic catastrophe.
I am sure my mind is shouting My future problems will bring about a catastrophe. Mark
Twain said it so well: My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which have
never happened.

Page | 70
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

The chronic WHAT IF? syndrome, when not used in strategic planning, is usually
pessimistic, hopeless and needs to be changed, renewed and deleted. It can be rather easily
overcome with an immediate answer that will stop the ruminating on a feared tragedy and
focus instead on a practical solution. If you find yourself thinking about catastrophe and
pain, stop the rumination. Then choose to focus on good and God.
For example, to the question, What if my car wont start? we can delete what and answer
the question. For example, If my car wont start, Ill phone a friend to help me get to the
office. If we ruminate on the pessimistic notions that my problem is powerful, pervasive
and permanent, I will end up with a real emotional catastrophe. However, if I choose to
change it to be an issue that is manageable, I will have a solution in mind and hope that my
plan will work.
God is in control. We are a part of Gods order and He promises to be with us and guide us
when we need wisdom. Perhaps this is what Jesus means in Matthew 6:25 Do not worry
about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear . your
heavenly Father knows that you need them. The emphasis is not to stop work and lie in bed,
but relax and allow God to show us His answers to lifes problems. James said something
very similar in Chapter 1:5 (NASB) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives
to all men generously and without reproach and it will be given to him. So, the message is to
1. Stop the focus on What if? and 2. Seek Gods direction.
It is very interesting to read what James said next in 1:6-7 But let him ask in faith without
any doubting for the one who doubts is like the surf o the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
Do not let that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being double minded,
unstable in all his ways.
In some ways, all of these barriers to Power Thinking lead to anxiety, rumination and
double mindedness. They show us that when our perceptions and thinking processes are
damaged, we dont receive His peace and wisdom because our eyes are blinded by anxiety
to seeing the truth. The Greek word for double minded is dipsuchos and means to have
two souls. Christians need a healthy, trusting, hopeful, optimistic mind which is the goal
of this book. If we do not heal, disciple and equip our people with renewed minds they will
miss many of the Lords blessings.
The Children of Israel were blind to Gods grace when He gave them manna in the
wilderness. They also missed His blessings when Moses came down the mountain from
meeting with God. Despite His obvious miracles their thinking was filled double minded
Beliefs that led to anxiety, worry, and self-centered efforts.
The use of What ifs? is used positively in brain storming exercises designed to think
downstream in the planning process. In order to be prepared for all possible problems a
planning team would need to ask itself what they would do to respond to various
contingencies with a series of What ifs?. Such an exercises never stop at the What if? But
Page | 71
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

always answer them with what is called a contingency plan that leaves the group with
carefully thought out solutions.
When If Only! is a Barrier
If only is a variation of the same theme. Both are equally irrational and both produce
anxiety. While What ifs? look into the irrational possibilities of the future, an If only! looks
backward into decisions of the past. They are concerned with a reality which cannot be
changed. The What ifs? are concerned with a future that will probably never occur.
If only I had taken the other job.
If only I had gone to college.
If only I hadnt married my spouse.
These are irrationally hopeless because they do not handle reality as it is. As Counselors
like to say, Denial is not a river in Egypt! Christians who live by these phrases do not trust
the Lord for their past. Mary and Martha are examples of Biblical characters with an If only!
mind set. Jesus did not arrive in Bethany until after Lazarus died. When He came to their
house, they cried out, If (only) you had been here, my brother would not have died (John
11:21). Instead of facing the reality of their brothers death, they looked backward to a
fantasy that had not occurred.
Exercise 3
If we live by statements such as If only!, we will not think, feel, or behave rationally or
hopefully. To eliminate such barriers to freedom, take a sheet of paper and divide it into
columns. On one side, list your common If only! thoughts. On the other side, change them
into statements of reality. Not all of them will be pleasant, but they can lead you into facing
the truth. This simple exercise may reveal what areas you need to face in order to become
more peaceful and joyful.
Freedom will come from eradicating as many of the If onlys!, the What ifs?, and other
hopeless self-talk that leads to double mindedness, fear and anxiety. You will notice that If
onlys! also have an element of should have in them. When Mary and Martha suggested that
the situation would have been different had Jesus arrived sooner, they really meant to
impose a should have come earlier on Him. By using If only! we are placing impossible
demands of the past on people in the present.
As a counselor, I often see couples who are experiencing current conflict today because one
or both of them have failed to deal adequately with problems that should not have
happened in the past. I listen for clues that indicate a root of stinking thinking and blaming
and shaming. Some of us say to our partners, If only You had not done ______ life would be
rosy. Sometimes the root problem is sex before marriage. They married under a cloud of
Page | 72
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

guilt and shame which still haunts them to this day, but is never named as such. It is usually
stated as, If only you had not. I would be happy.
One couple came to counseling because of fighting over his working too much and leaving
her at home alone. After listening to their conversations I discovered they had been in Bible
school together. In the dorm room one Sunday afternoon they started kissing and sexually
caressing each other. Perceiving herself as ruined merchandise, the girl married the man
who later became a pastor. However, she never got over believing that If only! he had
stopped his sexual actions they would be happy today.
Her anger at him, herself, and God was mixed with shame, self-loathing and regret. Her
thoughts were about the great life she would have If only! she had not been forced to marry
this pastor. Besides, as a pastoral student, he should not have done what he did.
They successfully removed the irrational and hopeless self-talk by confessing their sins to
each other, forgiving one another, and facing squarely their guilt and shame. Thankfully,
they stopped blaming and shaming and started living in Gods grace.
The roots of the couples bitterness led to fruits of bitterness lasting for decades. The hot
sex of college turned into cold sex and punishment in marriage. When the roots were cut
with the axe of love, grace and truth, God released a mutual love and respect which led to
emotional and physical fulfillment. Many couples who suffer from serious conflicts in their
current relationships have unresolved guilt and shame from past mistakes and sins. It all
leads to an abundance of ANTS and ruminating stinking thinking. Moving couples to
confront the ANTS with the reality of, I failed, can be just what is needed to bring
reconciliation and healing.
Renewed thinking pulls us into reality and refuses to let us dwell on irrational hopeless
fantasies in either the past or the future. It is living in the present and trusting God to take
care of the future. Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full
(John 10:10). It is Gods desire for us to be free from the bondage of toxic self-talk and to
replace it with a language of love and liberty. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is
freedom (II Corinthians 3:17).
Exercise 4
WHAT IF
Change What If? to present-day solutions. Use these examples for practice.
Example
1.

What if I lose my job?


Immediate Answer If I lose my job, I will look for better one.

What if my car wont start?


Page | 73

2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Immediate Answer
2.

What if I dont like the college Ive chosen?


Immediate Answer

3.

What if Im late for the meeting?


Immediate Answer

4.

What if
Immediate Answer

5.

What if
Immediate Answer

IF ONLY
Examine your tendency to say if only. Change that pattern to current realities. Use the
following examples as practice.
Example -

If only I had not moved from Los Angeles


Reality I moved from L.A. to Cincinnati

1.

If only I was married.


Reality

2.

If only I had not stayed up so late.


Reality

3.

If only I had stuck to my diet, I could fit into this dress.


Reality

4.

If only
Reality

5.

If only
Reality

Other Examples of Toxic Self Talk


One of the most common ways to sabotage our growth and healing is to think and talk in
extremes. By using terms that are perfect or worthless, evil or good, black or white,
excellent or lousy, saint or sinner we put ourselves into hopeless situations. We hear it a lot
Page | 74
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

in pious Christian circles where people are trying to give a Positive Confession by using
only positive words that leave no room for even a small imperfection. I am a great
proponent of positive ideas and positive talk, but I always attempt to soften my
expectations to focus on Gods will not mine.
In real life there are two things that rarely if ever happen. In fact, even God rarely ever
does either of these things. They are: Everything and Nothing.
All of life with God is made up of something. God almost always does something, but He
rarely does everything. When we pray for a person to come to Christ or a child to obey or a
sick friend to be healed, something happens. God always answers our prayers, but not
always in the ways we want or ask. However, if we develop an all or nothing at all mentality
and self-talk, but do not see the perfect answer to our prayers we can erroneously conclude
that God has done nothing.
As scripture says, You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives so that you
may spend it on your pleasure(James 4:2-3). By demanding that our prayers be answered in
a certain way we can set ourselves up for disaster.
Our faith is in God not in ourselves. God does what He thinks is best. In fact, the Apostle
Paul tells us in Romans 8:26 that We do not even know how to pray as we ought, let alone
know how to pray perfectly. But Paul says that The Holy Spirit intercedes for us Over the
decades of Christian ministry I have become happy that I do not have to pray perfectly
because I know the perfect Holy Spirit is praying for me.
We often see the tendency to think and speak in polar opposites to the people with whom
we work, worship, love and befriend. Couples sometimes fight because they expect perfect
change or perfect obedience to their desires. However, their imperfect mate answers
imperfectly or differently from what the other wants. Then, the disappointed mate thinks
and says, My spouse NEVER tries to please me. She ALWAYS turns me down when I ask for
romance. Or she says, My husband is ALWAYS late and he knows I want him to be on
time. He NEVER tries to please me.
When we hear these things we know the couple is setting expectations of perfection with
legalistic boundaries and legalistic demands. The requests are not filled with grace and love
but control and anger. This kind of relationship always leads to pessimism, hopelessness,
despair and anger. Successful marriage requires a lot of grace, overlooking small things and
offering forgiveness without being asked.
In I Timothy 3 St. Paul instructs Timothy, his son in the faith, how to lead his church. It
appears that Timothy is rather young, only in his mid-forties, so the older and wiser Paul is
offering guidance and coaching about leadership. Paul seems to be answering a question
Timothy wrote to him about how a Bishop or overseer of several congregations best
manages his flocks. My interpretation of Pauls wise advice follows:
Page | 75
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

It is a good thing if anyone would desire to oversee several groups that meet in various
homes. The qualifications for bishop are first, a good reputation, then temperate and
not flighty, not a polygamist, gentle, and not greedy. Watch out for those addicted to
alcohol and anger for they do not make good leaders.
It needs to be a man who has reared his own children to behave with a balanced life of
dignity. They cannot to be too aggressive or too passive. These are traits needed in the
Churches, so he must have learned how to do it in his own home first.
The operative term translated as dignity in English is semnotes. It means to be a balanced
composite of authedia (arrogant who will not serve anyone) and areskia (servile with no
backbone). In verse 8 Paul again uses semnotes to describe the way a Deacon must behave.
The goal for church and leaders is to live a balanced life at home and work. An unbalanced
life of extremes, of everything or nothing does not work well as a leadership style.
Exercise 5
1. As you look at the passages in I Timothy rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10
being the highest on each characteristics mentioned.
2. Reflect on your style of interacting and thinking. Would the Apostle Paul say you
tend to lead with authedia (arrogance) or areskia (passively servile)?
3. Reflect on the best leaders you have known. How did they rate on the characteristics
listed in Timothy?
4. Is your thinking sprinkled with Should, Ought, What if? Or If only! How would you
like to change?

Page | 76
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Chapter 6 From Hopelessness to Faith, Hope and Love


I Corinthians 13:8-13 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where
there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we
know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part
disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a
child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a
reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know
fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

This is a remarkable passage of scripture. It is, in fact, possibly the greatest hymn ever
written about love. When students first hear that Faith, Hope, and Love, are possible in this
world they cannot conceive what it means. They are shocked and surprised because they
have been choosing to feel badly and think pessimistically. During one of my early trips to
Russia, I was confronted by a Seasoned Minister during a retreat for Christian leaders. He
came to the front of the room and angrily told me I was teaching heresy because I
emphasized joy, peace and happiness. He was one of the millions of victims to the Socialist
lies about the Bible and Christianity.
Lets face it. We in the USA were also taught that solemnity and sadness were the normal
and desired state for Christians. It is not that we think God is going to make us miserable
but that our joy will be caused by other people, events, and situations outside of us. Many
sermons focus on how awful we should feel because there are so many poor and broken
people in the world. Additionally, we are taught that others cause us to feel sad, mad, or
glad. Think of the times you have heard someone say that the stresses of modern life are
killing us? The discussion nearly always focuses on the stress of a certain job, event or
situation. In fact, there are even hate laws that prohibit certain kinds of speech thought to
be so harmful that we cannot stand to hear it.
We often hear that traffic is stressful. That assumes that stress arises from outside of us. If
that is so, why do some people drive daily to work and arrive in peace, and relaxation while
others are harried, anxious, and angry? If it was the fault of traffic, then everyone would
have the exact same level of stressful feelings if they drove on the same highways. But the
opposite is true. Every person is unique in how much stress they feel. My stress level
depends almost completely upon the way I choose think about other drivers, the weather
and if I am running late to a meeting. If I think hopefully and positively I will more than
Page | 77
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

likely arrive at work in peace. However, if I think pessimistically about the other drivers,
the highway, the slowness of the traffic, and so on, I will be stressed when I get there.
Pessimistic Beliefs and self-talk are unconsciously caught from the environment of others
who learned it from still others. We have learned to react to life in ruinous ways. When
children learn destructive thinking patterns, they are unconsciously learning to curse
themselves. Ephesians 4:29 says it well:
Allow no rotten or unwholesome speech to come out of your mouth that does not edify and
build up those around you by giving them grace.
The negative thinking of the APART acrostic is anything but gracious! It attacks God and the
talents and gifts He gives us. It does not edify or build anyone up, but tears them down. It
leads to anger, bitterness and divisions in the family of God.
We often hear that depressives need to slowdown, rest, and conserve their energy.
Unfortunately, that is the exact opposite of what they need. The fact is that inactivity may be
what fostered their depression in the first place. Physical inactivity and negative mental
habits are actually the norm for anxious, depressed people. They tend to give up easily and
consider themselves chronic victims rather than victors.
Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of
every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but
understand what the Lord's will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to
debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. (Eph. 5:15) NIV
Adverse events are rarely ever Permanent, Pervasive, or Personal. Most of life consists of
events that are temporary, partially invasive and not the result of a personal flaw. However,
the way we were reared and the culture in which we live, our brain seems to automatically
go toward Stinking Thinking. So how can we get out of the rut of Pessimistic Thinking? It
is simple but not easy. We can change our thinking and change our feelings and behavior by
asking questions below, and separating fact from fiction. In this way, with a lot of practice,
we can develop new Beliefs, with new Consequential feelings, and make better Decisions.
Question 1. Does thinking this way help me face trials with joy? (James 1)
Pessimism- Do I perceive nothing good in this event. Does this mean I can never
receive any blessings from God?
1. Does this event have Permanent/eternal consequences?
a. Is it unforgivable?
b. Is it broken beyond repair?
c. Can nothing ever be done to make it better?
Page | 78
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

2. Does this ruin everything in life?


a. Can nothing be saved?
b. Is my entire life changed?
c. Is this a catastrophe?
3. Do I or someone with power over me bear total responsibility for this problem?
a. Is my life, as I know it over?
b. Have I lost all dignity, honor, and personhood?
In making this evaluation, be sure your answers are edifying and up-building.
(Phil. 4:6-9) Take a look at the APART acrostic again. Does it edify me and others?
Adversity-Anything I perceive as a negative event
Pessimistic Thinking-My Problems are Pervasive and Permanent not Perfect
o The ANTS of Stinking Thinking usually mean we need to Be transformed and
Renew our Mind
o You know the ANTS that lead to Hopelessness
Anxiety/Aggravation/Anger These feelings and actions will be turned outward
against those around or inward against oneself. Inward anger causes depression.
Rumination is mentally rehearsing fleshly, Pessimistic thoughts. We choose to
repeat them and waste time rehearsing hopelessness. With each cycle, the brain is
wounded and emotions increase so events become bigger than they were in the first
place.
Traumatizing Self-Talk. Self-talk is what we say to ourselves. The more that we

practice toxic self-talk the more wounds it causes to the brain. Ruminating on
Pessimistic past hurts is more harmful than the original abuse. Toxic conflicts are
almost as bad as divorce. Both leaves kids stuck with Stinking Thinking.
Ruminating self-talk merges directly with memories of how authorities or friends talked.
When kids are surrounded by parents, teachers and preachers who interact with the fruit
of the flesh they can develop Pessimistic, Hopeless thinking patterns. Thankfully, it is never
too late to have a happy childhood if we renew our minds. Philippians 3:13 tells us we can
refuse to allow our mind be conformed any longer to the world! We can forget everything
that is in the past and look toward the goal of Christ.
In John 10:10 Jesus said that the Devil comes to steal, rob and destroy but I came that you
may have life in abundance. Is your self-talk giving you an abundant life or is it stealing
your peace and robbing your joy? If your self-talk does not lead to an abundant life, it is not
from Jesus and needs to be changed to positive Power Christian Thinking.
Page | 79
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

The brains memory bank includes every event in life and the feelings we had as children.
Our own internal voice is the primary source of consistent feelings and actions. Adult
feelings are byproducts of childhood ideas and thinking patterns. Just as a computer is
always going back to its basic operating system, the assumptions and processes we
developed in childhood still influence every event that is entered afterward!
Nevertheless, we are not trapped by those memories. The past is not our destiny if we
choose to allow God to change it. We can transform past ideas and practices by importing
messages given to us by God. Gods word is powerful enough to erase the old tracks and
renew the mind. Again, It is never too late to have a happy childhood.
In order to reverse the hold that the evil one has put on our mind by the use of this
negative, Pessimistic, APART thinking process, we must fight with the bold authority God
has given us by virtue of our position in Christ Jesus.
4The

weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have
divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that
sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it
obedient to Christ. (II Cor. 10:4-5)
Strongholds arise from the world, the flesh, and the devil, and substitute perception
deception for reality. Jesus said, You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
(John 8:32) NKJ (The meaning of the word truth is unveiled reality.) Power Christian
Thinking is meditating on Gods truth which offers us healing, peace and freedom! Gods
word tells us to think on things that are true, uplifting, peaceful, patient, forgiving, of good
reputation, excellent, good reports, and blessings(Philippians 4:8). This is a positive source
of life-giving meditation. All we need to do is focus our mind on God to promote confidence,
optimism, energy and a can-do attitude.
The Greatest Psychology Book ever Written
St Paul writes brilliantly about these issues. His insights, inspired by the Holy Spirit, are
why the Bible is the greatest book on positive psychology ever written. The term
psychology means Study of the soul. Historically, followers of the one true God were the
primary source of soul care and Paul continues that tradition.
17I

tell you this in the name of the Lord: You must not live any longer like the people of the
world who do not know God. Their thoughts are foolish. 18Their minds are in darkness.
They are strangers to the life of God. This is because they have closed their minds to Him
and have turned their hearts away from Him .
20But

you did not learn anything like this from Christ. 21If you have heard of Him and have
Page | 80

2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

learned from Him, 22put away the old person you used to be. Have nothing to do with your
old sinful life. 23Let your minds and hearts be made new. .
26If

you are angry, do not let it become sin. Get over your anger before the day is finished.
not let the devil start working in your life.

27Do

The Holy Spirit has put a mark on you for the day you will be set free. 31Put out of your life
all these things: bad feelings about other people, anger, temper, loud talk, bad talk which
hurts other people, and bad feelings which hurt other people. 32 You must be kind to each
other. Think of the other person. Forgive other people just as God forgave you because of
Christs death on the cross. (Eph 4:32) NLT
The book of Proverbs offers wisdom for healthy living. Millions also turn to the Psalms for
comfort, healing, and encouragement. The care of the heart, mind and soul are consistent
themes throughout the Bible. Until recently, Old Testament Priests and New Testament
Elders were the people to go to when one was suffering from worry, anxiety, sadness and
difficulties. Unfortunately, that focus and its necessary skills are languishing today
(McNeil).
How to Care for Your Soul
Now, we will discuss the kind of thinking that is gracious and leads to abundance! Soul care
requires us to take responsibility for ourselves and to assist others to do the same.
Christianity was originally a movement of peers blessing other peers. The 12 men that
Jesus chose to be his team were a motley crew of blue collar workers with little formal
education. Jesus was called Rabbi or Teacher, but Peter, James, and John were rough and
tumble men of the sea and earth.
Luke was a Doctor and Saul/Paul was a learned man who studied the Law, but most of the
early disciples were country people. Yet, they touched thousands and changed the world in
about 300 years. Their approach impacted the Roman Empire with some 30 million
followers. So many came to Christ and changed their ways that Constantine needed them
on his side and made Christianity the state sponsored religion (Stark).
Until that point, Christians were unpopular and often persecuted. They had no official
church buildings, seminaries, colleges or legal standing. But, they had very high spiritual
fervor and an attitude of each one reach one. Because each and every Christian believed
he/she was called to minister in the Name of Jesus, the faith spread like wildfire from
relative to relative and friend to friend. One early church Elder complained that his light
bills were so high because all the church members were taking oil from the lamps and
using it to anoint the sick and heal them.

Page | 81
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Christians started orphanages and adoption of babies in Greece and Rome because the
pagans there were fond of exposing girl babies on the mountain sides and letting them die.
The early believers fought against the pagan planned parenthood of the day by taking
these children into their homes. One cannot miss the enormous amount of material in the
New Testament devoted to the care of souls. Advice and counsel on marriage, divorce,
slavery, parenting, management, counseling, etc. is a staple of the canon. For example, St.
Paul showed terrific insights about building great relationships when he wrote Ephesians
4. It is as worthwhile today as it was 2000 years ago. No psychologist has ever improved on
his advice about good relationships.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful
for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of
redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along
with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving
each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Even though it appears that Paul was a bachelor, He gave profoundly good advice to
couples and parents. In Ephesians 5 and 6 he said, Submit yourselves to one another out of
reverence to Christ He told parents not to Treat their children with anger and wound their
spirit. Both of these admonitions were ahead of the times by hundreds of years just as the
instructions to treat slaves as brothers.
As Christians, we can draw on very powerful resources to show us the way to joy and
peace. I developed the acrostic SPARK to chart the mental aspects of a healthy and resilient
thinker. It is a way we can stop that stinking thinking and build Resilience. The SPARK
actions are recorded as a series, but in reality, there is no right or wrong order. They are a
healthy combination occurring in any order and can vary according to individual
personality and preferences.
o S - Spiritual Basics
o P - Power Thinking
o A Action
o R Renew the Mind
o K Know God
Spiritual Basics: Learn and know in your heart what God says about your Identity in
Christ. A works-righteousness or a free-grace approach to God stand worlds apart.
Learning the truth about Gods redemption and repeating it every day is crucial.
Without understanding and application of Gods love and Jesus finished work on the
cross, it is difficult, if not impossible, to experience the joy and peace of God.
Page | 82
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Power Thinking, not Pessimistic Thinking: Evaluate your self-talk and see if it is filled
with Ruminating on Pessimistic ideas or Meditating on Gods ideas. If it does focus on
Hopelessness ask God to help you fight against them and replace the Hopeless thoughts
with those that are biblical and uplifting. Faith, Joy, and Hope are biblical. You can stop
Pessimistic, Powerless, Hopeless Ruminating
Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind. (Rom. 12:2, NIV)
The weapons of our warfare are not of the fallen flesh but are divinely inspired for the
destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations, calculations, reflections, self-talk
and considerations of every sort that are hostile to God. And so we are taking every
thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (II Cor. 10: 4-5, SSV)
Learning the list of seven words in Appendix J will stop Anxious ANTS if practiced daily.
The following action steps can also help us renew our minds.
Action:
1. Do something positive for yourself and others. Do not sit passively and Ruminate
about the Adverse issues in your life. Passivity is the enemy of Peace and Joy.
2. Recognize and actively take captive every damaging thought. Evaluate and identify
what is gracious, true, and lovely. Get to know what God says about you. Remember
the truest thing about you is what God says.
3. Resist passive withdrawal and passive acceptance of lies and negative self-talk.
4. Write a passage on a 3 by 5 card that affirms who you are in Christ. Take it with you
to read and meditate on during the day.
5. When you are nervous and feel powerless, remind yourself that Gods power at
work within you.
6. Be patient with yourself! Renewing the mind to permanently alter the brain, takes
time. Getting in a hurry can cause a relapse back to Hopelessness. Taking every
thought captive to Christ can be done by using determination and self-discipline.
7. Resist allowing anger generated by Pessimistic Self-Talk to turn back to punish
yourself or others. Ask God to help you to destroy the fortresses and strongholds of
Pessimism.
8. Reach out to help someone else. Take your mind off how awful you are.
(Personal note: My mother at 80 entered a psychiatric unit in a clinical depression
after Dad died. In a week, she left fully recovered. She learned to change her mind. It
was not the medicine or the doctors, but the patients who asked her to mother
them. She regained her purpose in life.
Renew the Mind with Gods word and spend time Meditating on the voice of the Holy
Spirit. Seek the Holy Spirit as you Meditate. Allow the scripture to interact with your
conscious and unconscious heart.
Page | 83
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Know the truth of scripture well enough to audibly resist the enemys lies. Study Eph. 6,
and learn how to use the whole armor of God. Use the positive commands of the Bible
as you Renew the Mind in Meditation. Sing scripture songs that you or others have
written. Take out the card during the day that you wrote the scripture on and read it to
yourself.
Practice looking at your thinking processes by using this process:
o Record a recent event that you responded to with POSITIVE FEELINGS.
o Activating Event: (What happened?)
o Consequential Feelings: (How did you feel? Mad, Sad, Glad, etc.)
o Decisive Behavior: (What did you do immediately afterward?)
o Beliefs: (What Beliefs caused your Consequential Feelings??)
When Jesus went to raise Lazarus from the dead, He did not cry in grief but snorted like a
warhorse indicating He was mad at death and intended to fight it until it was defeated. He
will also fight for us in spiritual battles. Jesus wants to work with us to overcome our
Adversities, so do not lose hope.
Resilience rooted in Confidence
Robert Coles, a clinical assistant in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, wrote about an
amazing girl of eight who faced down a mob in 1962:
I was alone, and those [segregationist] people were screaming, and suddenly I saw God
smiling, and I smiled. A woman was standing there [near the school door], and she
shouted at me, 'Hey, you little nigger, what you smiling at?' I looked right at her face,
and I said, 'At God.' Then she looked up at the sky, and then she looked at me, and she
didn't call me any more names.
This little girl bounced back from evil because she was confident in God. Her Beliefs about
herself included faith in God, and angry, screaming adults could not change it. With faith,
we can face the pains in life with courage because we are victors.
In Luke Chapter One, we read the marvelous story of Mary, the teenage mother of Jesus.
She was pregnant and not married, but she chose to keep her baby. She was in a terrible
situation and could have suffered greatly as a result of Gods plan. At the same time, her
much older cousin, Elizabeth, was also pregnant with the baby that would become John the
Baptist. Mary went to the country to visit her, and as she entered the house, Elizabeth cried
out, You are blessed above all women! The term blessed means, spoken highly of, so
Elizabeth encouraged Mary to not worry. She needed to remember that her reputation was
Page | 84
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Gods responsibility and that He would take care of it. Today, 2000 years later, Marys
reputation is spoken about very highly.
Mary was contented and at peace because she fully accepted what God had told her. In fact
she sang a song of joy that included the line, God has regarded my low estate and from now
on all generations will call me blessed Or All future generations will say I was content with
Gods plan for my life. We too can find contentment by knowing the truth about Him and
His desire that we prosper.
Build Resilience
What can parents and Christian leaders do? Try being a Timex! Do you remember the old
Timex TV commercials? They showed an everyday, blue collar working watch that was
taken by divers under the ocean, used by construction workers on jackhammers and by
cooks in steam and heat. Their slogan shouted by John Cameron Swayze was: Takes a
licking and keeps on ticking! (Old Timex Commercials,
www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_fKppH8B0g )
Believers with a biblical assurance of their Identity and Inheritance in Christ, and are
confident in their talents, like Timex watches. They have developed resilience that helps
them Take a licking but keep on ticking!
Some people lack any sense of confidence in their abilities, so they are not passionate about
serving and taking responsibility to resist the culture. They are fearful to evangelize, serve,
or minister in His name lest they would be embarrassed or face resistance. They fear
Taking a licking.
Others know they have talent, but are shaky about their Christian identity, and perhaps
their Inheritance. When Peter denied Jesus, he was confident in his abilities and loved to
talk about them, but he was confused about his position in the kingdom. It was only after
God spoke to him on the housetop that he became bold enough to break from old Jewish
tradition.
Learning by Experience
How does such confidence develop? I left College Hill Presbyterian Church to open a Christcentered psychiatric unit at Emerson Hospital. Over 95% of our patients were born-again
Believers, but they were anxious and depressed. Many also had drug and alcohol problems
to medicate their fears. After some months of working with such people, we discovered a
couple of patterns:
One, although they had received Gods redeeming grace and love, many as children, most
were not sure of their new Identity in Christ or of their Inheritance in the Family of God.
They still thought like slaves, not children of the Almighty God. The slightest failure,
Page | 85
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

mistake, or sin sent them into a gloomy, oppressive, pessimistic funk with ruminations that
they had been kicked out of Gods family and were bound for hell.
Second, some had little confidence in their abilities. They had no hope that they possessed
now or ever had any competence. They sincerely believed that they had never and could
never accomplish anything worthwhile. For some reason, they had no resilience. Our
residents did not know how to take a licking and bounce back ticking. A.A. Milnes Eeyore
was their patron saint, but we taught them how to think more like the spunky, confident
Tigger. Pooh Bear would have been proud of them when they finally graduated from the
Pitiful, Pessimistic Ruminations.
Others had the opposite problem. They believed they were supremely wonderful and
special. They had been praised for things that were not praiseworthy and had been
protected from appropriate disappointment or failure. Because they had been shielded
from loss and failures, they had not developed a toughness of heart and mind.
Failure normally brings sadness, a reality of life to everyone, including healthy people. It is
designed by the Creator to spur us on to improvement. It is good to learn how to deal
effectively with such feelings early in life and discover how to be resilient. Learning to lose
and come back stronger is essential to developing self-reliance, resilience, and the ability to
stand independent of the crowd. Champions develop a resilient attitude by persevering
through wins and losses. They know it takes both skill and persistent hard work.
What had caused the residents to quit instead of bounce back? Why did they have a failure
to thrive? We were surprised to learn that most of our residents had never played board
games like Monopoly, Scrabble or Old Maid. They had missed the opportunity to develop
self-confidence in the face of adversity. They had not bounced back from small losses or
learned from winning. To help them grow we bought some board games and scheduled
times to play. We were essentially re-parenting them for an improved future.
It was a wonderful experiment. These distressed, depressed men and women were finally
learning as adults, the skills they could have learned as children. They learned how to be
gracious winners and resilient losers. From thinking about why they lost, these men and
women also learned ways to use their insights to play harder and smarter.
The weekly games healed some of their Adversity Deprivation and taught them to Take a
licking and keep on ticking. If kids do not know how to compete at baseball, cards, a spelling
bee or soccer how can they ever stand up to drugs, pornography or attacks on their faith?
How can one who has not learned to recover from losing a game of Go Fish bounce back
from a business loss or the death of a loved one? Not very well, so they turned to stinking
thinking as well as drugs and alcohol.
Real life is hard. Competition is real. Many bosses are very difficult and we have to do
things we despise. During my fifth year of teaching, I worked for a man who disliked poor
children and black children. I could hardly endure being in the system because I was
Page | 86
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

helpless as he bullied and punished these kids. It presented a serious dilemma for me. What
was I to do? If I went along with his actions I would have to live with evil daily. However, if I
challenged him I would suffer his wrath and certain persecution and maybe lose my job.
Was I to go along to get along, or speak up and lose my job?
I agonized and fretted. I lost sleep and talked with other teachers. They warned me not to
say anything or I would be fired. Should I stand down or stand up? There have been times
when Gods Spirit gave me the strength to win a battle, do the right thing. Other times, the
desire for approval or job security prevailed and I chickened out.
This time I confronted the boss. My annual evaluation turned from good to really bad.
Shortly, the superintendent called me in for a professional conference where his evaluation
accused me of numerous faults, all pointing to one glaring fact: I was a poor teacher. It was
a devastating event. The Adversity led me to Pessimistic Thinking. I believed that I had
Personal Problems as a teacher and that they were Pervasive and Permanent. Now I can
see why I was so down and sad. I said to myself that I was a miserable failure. I was
ashamed and became depressed.
Back then I had no one who knew how to counsel me. The deep sense of failure lasted
longer than necessary because I had never heard of renewing my mind even though I was a
Christian. After some time of misery and self-pity, it also prompted me to take actions that
changed my life forever. Looking back, I can see that Adversity was a gift from God. My pain
at school was ultimately wonderful, but it certainly did not appear that way in 1965! The
bad evaluation led me to return to the University. I changed my career and life goal. God led
me to enter the Masters Program in Higher Education-Student Personnel Counseling., It is
a career that I love.
I counseled many sad and depressed people like me . I tried to figure out how to help them,
but it was hard as long as they blamed others for their misery. I did not know how to help
them stop the Pessimistic Thinking. Over time I learned how to renew my mind and help
others do the same. I found ways to keep me and others from falling back into that old
pattern of Stinking Thinking. Then I started passing those insights on to my friends and
clients. Now you have a similar opportunity to learn how to think and live with Faith, Hope
and Love and pass your insights on to others. Go for the gold!
Exercise 6:
Think of an Adverse event that hurt you or upset you. Write it down in the APART manner
and analyze it to see if you responded with Pessimism or Hope

Adverse Event

Beliefs: Did you Believe the Problem was Powerful, Pervasive and Permanent?

Consequential Feelings: Did you Feel Aggravated, Angry, Upset?


Page | 87

2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Decisive Behavior: Did you Ruminate?

Did it make you feel worse?

What would you do now to stop that process?

Develop a Power Thinking Journal

Letting Go
John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are
really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
33 They answered him, We are Abrahams descendants and have never been slaves of
anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?
34 Jesus replied, Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has
no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free,
you will be free indeed.

Exercise 7:
Write a private and confidential letter to God describing a painful event caused by person
close to you. Go into detail about what happened, how you felt and what you did. Ask the
Holy Spirit to reveal what you saw, what you thought and what you felt as well as what you
did in reaction.
It may take several days to finish getting it all out.
When finished, spread the letter out on a desk or table.
Ask God for enough grace and mercy to let the hurts, pains, anger and bitterness go.
Worship the Lord and ask the Spirit to rise up within your heart and mind.
Meditate on what Jesus said in Luke 6:
27 But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Meditate on how you think God wants you to feel toward this person.
Meditate on how God wants you to interact with this person.
Page | 88
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Chapter 7 Prayer and Meditation


Until recently I was confused about the differences between prayer and meditation. Define
in your own words what prayer is to you. Then define meditation. Make sure you use
biblical references. Can you describe their commonalities and differences? Have you
attempted to pray? How well do you think you are at prayer? How about meditation? Have
you attempted to meditate? How successful are you?
My six year old grandson is a ham and we can depend upon him to let us know what he
thinks about the stuff on TV. Of course he does it in an innocent and naive way because he
is a young kid with no theological training. He is just starting to read. Every once in a while
Jack will lean back in his chair and go mmmmmmm before breaking out in a laugh. He has
somewhere learned about Eastern Meditation as practiced by many Buddhists and other
groups. It all looks pretty silly to young Jack and he shows why.
Most Christian adults are like Jack. When they hear the term meditation they want to lean
back and make fun of the strange noises they imagine practitioners make. The Bible says
meditation is a powerful way to impact the mind and open it up to new ways of thinking
and acting.
Jesus placed great importance on the human mind and heart as the source of human
behavior, either good or evil. God gave us the incredible ability to imagine. Imagination is
truly a powerful gift from God. We are able to imagine because we are created in the
likeness of an imaginative, creative God. Thankfully, He shared a part of His creative,
envisioning ability with us. Dr. Andrew Newberg says that we cannot think without
pictures. If I say, I saw a poodle I will see a poodle and so will you.
The Biblical Basis for Imagination
The sanctified use of ones imagination has been a concern of Biblical leaders since the first
book of the Bible (Genesis 6:5). Both the Old and New Testaments are replete with
examples of teaching on the importance of using mental rehearsal (imagination) in positive
rather than negative ways. We need a biblical definition for the word imagine. To imagine
means to meditate; to devise; to purpose; to fabricate; to think; to design; frame; thought;
consider; ruminate.
Imagination has a rich and multifaceted meaning in the Old Testament. In fact, it covers the
whole range of mental, emotional functions that we have come to associate with the
Page | 89
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Hebrew notion of the heart. The variant renderings of these Hebrew words show the
importance and power of the heart and mind.
The important Hebrew term meditate is used some twenty times in scripture. The Hebrew
sage and prophet was one who Meditates on the Scripture day and night (Psalm 1:2). As we
have seen, meditate and imagine are often used synonymously in Scripture. To meditate is
to murmur, to mutter; to make a sound with the mouth; to essentially self-talk.
The Hebrew concept of terms is wholistic. Imagination and meditation are terms broad
enough to cover the heart, mind, emotions, and mental imagery. In fact, it is almost
impossible to meditate on a scripture passage without using all of our faculties. For
example, read the 23rd Psalm and then meditate on it. Say it over to yourself verse by
verse. Can you see images about a stream, green pastures and so forth? The Puritans were
famous for promoting this kind of meditation.
Richard Baxter, a Puritan leader and writer, wrote, Saints Everlasting Rest (1650) in which
he outlined three stages of meditation.
First stage: The subject matter--the doctrine or incident--was called up by memory. The
meditator tried to get vivid, detailed apprehension of it using only memory and
imagination.
Second stage: The image or proposition supplied by memory is analyzed and
comprehended by reason until the work of understanding was complete.
Third stage: The subject then was submitted to the will and affections, which were moved
to great joy or sorrow.
Because we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world and are surrounded by forces that
desire to lead us into temptation, our thoughts and imaginations are easily distorted. Dr.
Newberg points out in his book How God Changes your Brain that without healing and
change, our brains automatically regress back to a state of violence, selfishness and conflict.
As my Mentor Rev. Bob Lereaux said, The only things that happen naturally are sin.
Everything else must be turned over to God. This makes it crucial for us to work to renew
our cognitive faculties and imaginative abilities to line up with Gods will. Jesus spoke
clearly about this matter at the Sermon on the Mount.
You have heard that it was said, do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone
who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart
(Matthew 5:27-28).
There are barriers to meditation that interfere with our spiritual renewal. Unfortunately,
we may find it difficult to meditate on God because of these interruptions. The Automatic
Negative Thoughts that rise up from the deep heart wounds and old habits can sabotage
our Meditation by substituting Ruminations. Meditation is focusing the mind and heart on
the things of God, but Rumination is focusing intentionally or unintentionally on the things
Page | 90
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

of the flesh. It takes self discipline and practice to fight Rumination and have a great time of
Meditation.
Look in Psalm 27 at the trouble David had when he tried to meditate on the things of God.
His mind and heart kept bouncing back and forth between God and his troubles. David had
a strong desire for an intense relationship with God, but he failed many times to carry it
out. He sounds like Paul in Romans 7. David was tempted to get mad at his enemies. He was
also tempted to feel like a victim and cry out to God in frustration. Are you like David and
struggle with being focused completely on God? Do you struggle with Ruminating on angry
images when you are trying to meditate?
1 The LORD is my light and my salvationwhom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes that will
stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even
then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of
his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will
sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
7 Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you Seek his face! Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my
helper Do not reject me or forsake me,
10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Page | 91
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
For fourteen verses David wobbled back and forth between seeking Gods personal
presence and worrying about Gods anger and the anger of other kings. Is David feeling
guilty and ashamed because of some secret sin that he was fearful God was going to
demand justice for? We do not know, but we can identify with King David. He was a man
just like we are. He had all the temptations and struggles that we have.
But David seems to have a different experience with meditation in Psalm 23. Read along
with David as he takes us on his journey of meditation.
The Lord is my shepherd
A picture immediately comes to mind as I mutter, murmur and say these words to myself. I
see the Lord Jesus Himself. I see Him dressed as a shepherd with a shepherds crook. He is
looking at me. The Lord is my shepherd, so I am there with him, a sheep, sitting at the
shepherds feet. My feelings are also impacted. I feel good. I feel accepted. I believe I am
loved by Jesus.
Meditation engages the entire heart, mind and emotions of the person. It is impossible to
think, to mutter to ones self anything that engages ones mental images without causing an
emotional response. In Psalm 23 we can see how meditation and imagination are used to
touch the broken pieces of his deep heart.
In fact, in verse 3 David says: He restores my soul. Now he begins to talk to the Shepherd
who restores his soul about his need for peace. He can see the gentle Shepherd listening to
the hurts and habits of his heart. Like David I think about Him praying for me and healing
the wounds of the inner life. I see my hands upraised receiving the outpoured love of God
into my heart, mind, will, and emotions. I see and feel the tears flow down my cheeks in
response.
In this manner David used his Spirit-led imagination to allow God to heal his past. I know
that I can do the same. This is meditation at its best. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is the same
in the past, the present, and the future. My meditation can include Jesus and me in every
timeframe of my life.
Verse 4 shows how we can meditate on the future.
Even though I walk through the dark valleys of pain and death, I will fear no evil; for
Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me.
As I murmur to myself those wonderful words in Psalm 23 pictures and thoughts come to
mind. I see a dark valley filled with the painful realities of life. I see times of financial
insecurity or failure. However, I see an image of the Good Shepherd to stand beside me.
In many of my meditations I hear old gospel songs such as He walks with me and talks
with me and tells me I am His own. Further murmuring brings to mind that the Shepherds
Page | 92
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

rod and staff that comfort and protect me. The rod is His power and authority. The staff is
His comfort and nurture, so I am protected both ways. I see Him standing between me and
the crisis. He is my source. He is my provision. He is my protection.
In fact, as I move on to verse 5, I see that the Good Shepherd is not only protecting me; He is
going beyond protection with a banquet in the valley. I see food and feasting while the
enemies are fasting. I enjoy the fellowship with the Shepherd as we sup together.
The results are gloriously revealed in verse 6 as my cup overflows and good things are
spread out all around me as I move through all the days of my life. The valley of gloom is
dispelled and I am in the Lords House forever.
What joy as I have been able to go from the valley of death to the mountain of God in one
meditation and my mood has been completely altered as a result. Those Puritans certainly

New Testament Examples


One of the most potent New Testament examples of a process to renew the mind through
meditation and imagination is familiar to us because I have quoted it several times. It is
found in Philippians 4:4-9. Paul instructs his readers to find the peace that passes
understanding by using an intriguing combination of learning methods:
Verse 4 Rejoicing in the Lord always. (Praise, joy, rejoicing and thanksgiving renew our
minds and hearts).
Verse 6 Confronting anxiety with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.
Verse 7 The peace of God will hold our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Verse 8 Thinking about the things that are true, honorable, and just; things that are pure,
lovely, gracious, excellent, and worthy of praise. Self-talk of Hope and expectation
Verse 9 Practicing what we have learned, have received and heard me say, and have seen
me do. Then the God of peace will be with you.
This passage covers the range of intellectual, emotional, volitional and imaginative
functions. Although some recent critics have cast aspersions on Believers proper use of
imagination and meditation, we see that the Scripture commands us to do them broadly
and consistently.
We are to murmur, devise, think about, contemplate, and use our imaginations in the areas
of things that are true, honorable, just, etc. The possibilities are almost endless in this one
passage. In the area of Christian growth and healing this passage is almost unfathomable.
Those who struggle with fear, pain, anxiety, self-doubt, shame, and insecurity can take
Page | 93
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

heart for God has an answer. You can meditate upon all of those things that are lovely,
gracious, and excellent. The result is Shalom! Eirene! Peace!

Possible Abuses
Every good and perfect gift is from God and, all of those gifts can be counterfeited by the
evil one. In this regard, we consider when Moses faced the Pharaohs magicians. Moses had
the rod of God that showed forth His power and transcendence. However, the evil
magicians also counterfeited almost all of those supernatural gifts, but God triumphed in
the last.
In the New Testament we also see examples of demonic or humanistic counterfeits of the
real thing. However, the Scripture never encourages us to avoid the use of Gods gifts
because they can be misused or abused. To my knowledge, no critic has pointed out a
biblical reason for avoiding meditation and imagination. Some public outcry has taken on
an emotional tone toward imagery solely on the basis that some cults and occult groups
practice meditation.
This is a faulty method of biblical criticism. Any criticism of a practice or gift must spring
from Scripture rather than a comparison with non-Christian groups. Unfortunately, many
people have been misled by these outcries and have become afraid to practice meditation.
Occasionally there are situations in which we begin a mental rehearsal, but our desired
feelings will not track with our will to picture the new behavior. Great limbic lag is in effect.
At such times, use a one-minute deep breathing technique. Take a very deep breath first,
breathe slowly for one minute, and then return to rehearsal.
A part of walking by faith is calling into being that which is not presently evident. (Hebrews
11). By fixing our minds on feelings and actions which are consistent with our renewed
thinking, new feelings and behaviors can be called into being. The Greek word for think
means to see in the mind. This concept makes the possibilities for practicing change
exciting (Philippians 4:8).
Exercise 8:
Philippians 4 exhorts us to think on (imagine and mentally rehearse) those things that are
true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, things worthy of praise. Set for
yourself the goal of mentally rehearsing some specific things in your life that conforms to
these terms.

What is true? Lord, it is true that You created me in Your image and have placed me
in the center of Your Creation to reign with You. I see myself as a special child who
co-rules with You, the Father.
What is honorable? Mentally review those things about yourself that are honorable.
What is just?
Page | 94

2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

What is pure?
What is lovely?
What is gracious?
What is excellent?
What is worthy of praise?

It is easy to think on negative aspects of our lives, but God wants us to consider those
things that are life-giving and good. Mental rehearsal gives us an opportunity to align our
minds with the mind of Jesus Christ.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father may give you
the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that
the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to
which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His
incomparably great power for us who believe (Ephesians 1:17-19).
Proper mental rehearsal enables us to bring Gods revelation into our deep, inner selves by
having the eyes of our hearts enlightened. What a wonderful imaginative phrase this is
and how wonderfully it gives us a picture of Gods will for our lives! One of the homework
assignments on which we sometimes ask people to work is in conjunction with this
Scripture and a similar statement in Colossians 1:9. Committing these passages to memory
and using them as Scriptureguided prayer can be deeply effective upon the inner life. We
encourage you simply to ask the Holy Spirit to give a spirit of wisdom and knowledge of
Jesus Christ. Petition the Father to enlighten the eyes of your heart so you will, at the depth of
your being, experience His promises.
This kind of mental rehearsal implores the Spirit of God to provide His images and His
visions. As the Word states in Proverbs 29:18, without a (Gods) vision, the (His) people
perish. Appendix B lists over 70 scriptures which tell who we are in Christ. Remember that
the words imagine, meditate, think upon, consider and devise all have essentially similar
meanings. Choose a scripture from that list that can prove to be an up builder for you and
meditate upon it.
For example, you may struggle with feelings of self-condemnation and self-rejection. A
great scriptural antidote is Romans 8:1. Now therefore there is no condemnation for those
who are in Christ Jesus. The process of meditation could include these steps:

Write the passage on a 3 x 5 card.


Mutter it over and over to yourself.
Put the words to music. Sing them. Hum the melody. Whistle it. Become a composer.
Imagine yourself meeting Jesus. See Him telling the Father that all of your
condemnation is gone. Have Him call you by name.
Imagine Jesus telling your parents and friends that you are not condemned.
Page | 95

2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Add your own activity.

Mental rehearsal is a vital part of renewing the mind and a vital part of meditation.
When Christ died He left a will in which He gave His soul to His Father, His body to Joseph
of Arimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and His mother to John. But to His disciples, who
had left all to follow Him, He left not silver or gold, but something far better - His PEACE!
Matthew Henry

Page | 96
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix A The Heart of Creation and Fallen Nature


The open heart of God met the open heart of Adam and Eve as they had
fellowship in the garden.
Being naked and unashamed is symbolized by these open hearts. Transparency, Liberty, Identity,
Inheritance and Eternal Life in Gods Family

The broken hearts of Adam and Even symbolize the relationship they had
with God and each other after the Fall.

The Johari Window is an interpersonal symbol of interactions as humans.

Known to

Known

Not Known

to Self

to Self

1. Openly Shared

2. Bad Breath Area

3. Hidden Area

4. Unknown Area

You
Not
Known to You

AREA 1: That which we are willing to share with others represents our valued ideas that are safe. We are
aware of the material in AREA 1 and so are others.
Page | 97
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

AREA 3 represents what we know but hesitate to share with others if it is not safe. As our trust level
grows with others we are more willing to open AREA 3 into AREA 1. Anything in anothers behavior
that we perceive as a lack of caring increases the size of the hidden area and reduces the size of AREA 1.
People who show understanding, genuineness, warmth, and respect, encourage others to become more
transparent and open up AREA 3.
AREA 2 represents what others know about us but we do not know about ourselves unless. With good
feedback and feed forward, we will become more aware at how we come across to others. As Jesus said
in Luke 6:36 Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks so every time we talk others are
learning about what is in our heart. They can pick up indications of what lies in our heart as they notice
our words, tone of voice, interest themes, and behavior patterns.
Getting feedback from friends is very valuable for us to grow in grace. We are often unaware of our
talents, gifts, habits, and character defects and need feedback from others to see ourselves clearly. Helpers
must learn how to observe carefully and give feedback to people in need. In this way, a Seekers AREA 1
is expanded into AREA 2 and enlarges our area of self-knowledge.
AREA 4 represents the part of us that do not know about me and neither do you. It may be considered the
deep unconscious. However, each time we speak, parts of the inner heart are unintentionally revealed.
AREA 4 is reduced in size, which is the goal, through a combination of trust, feedback, exploration, and
discernment. When all occur, the unknown dimension of life shrinks. Listening to another person in
safety so they can hear themselves will often be enough to enable change to occur in any unwanted
behavior.
If we walk in the light as He is in the light we will have fellowship with one another and the blood of
Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7)
As God places His Spirit deep within us and His fruit begin to blossom, it is necessary to practice that
fruit in our outer lives. Thus, the internal work of the Spirit becomes an authentic part of our behavior. As
a young man, I was full of anger. After Christ began to heal my anger I transferred much of my old fights
into holy wars of theological arguing. I was like Saul before he became Paul. He was so contentious
that the church in Jerusalem placed him on a boat to Tarsus. (Acts 9:29-36) The Spirit was in us but the
lifestyles had not changed.
As I began to grow in Christ and to get involved with believers who helped me receive His grace, I
discovered the need to practice the fruit of the Spirit by cleaning up the roots of bitterness in my inner
life. As I worked to change both my attitudes and my behavior patterns, the fruit of the Spirit became
more evident to others. The truth of God was immensely helpful in my quest to be cleansed and healed, as
well as to change inner patterns of thoughts and feelings. This enabled me to make my walk more
consistent with my talk.
This course book is designed to help develop new behaviors in our outer lives to replace the old ones
developed from years of practice. We assume that you know the Giver of all truth, the Holy Spirit. We
must stay in fellowship with Him and His people so that the process of speaking the truth in love can

Page | 98
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

proceed with the greatest amount of effectiveness and speed. The fruit of the Spirit develops only as we
abide in Christ and allow our roots to drink deeply from the rivers of living waters.

Appendix B Scriptures of Who I Am In Christ

Page | 99
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix C SEVEN STEP METHOD OF RENEWING THE


MIND
Many times we are too busy to thoroughly review our thoughts and feelings through talking it
over. This is a simple method for getting relief and change. It also helps us develop a new mind
and new behavior. If regularly practiced, it will vaccinate you against ANTS (Automatic
Negative Thoughts)
I.

SPOT THE OFFENDING THOUGHT. The most important part is learning to quickly
identify thoughts that are not rational or healthy.

II.

STOP THE OFFENDING THOUGHT. After identification engage your will and
CHOOSE to STOP its incursion. More than likely it is part of a well formed thinking
habit and will not die easily. Say, STOP! I refuse to allow you to control my mind and
behavior.

III.

STAND AGAINST THE OFFENSE. In Eph. 6:10, St. Paul encourages us to take the
offensive in spiritual battles by Having done all to stand, therefore STAND! We must
actively fight to defeat old patterns of thinking. Put on the whole armor of God Is
advice that requires us to aggressively move forward and not run away.

IV.

SEND THE THOUGHTS TO THE LORD FOR DISPOSAL. All temptations must be
handled carefully. We could attempt to push thoughts down into the deep heart. But
that is folly. It will return at a more opportune time. We can allow the thought to rule
us and give in to temptation. The best option is to allow the Lord to deal with it.

V.

SUPPLANT YOUR MIND WITH SPECIFIC TRUTH. Our hearts abhor a vacuum. Find
some Scripture or practical truth to replace the lie that you have been thinking. Then
dwell on that truth and meditate upon it.

VI.

Sow Seeds of Life Death or life is in our tongue and in our hearts. We can choose to
spread life and peace to those around us.

VII.

SEEK SPIRITUAL SUSTENANCE. We grow in grace and truth through worship, Bible
study, discussions, meditation and fellowship. As scripture touches our hearts we see
transformation.

Page | 100
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix D: Evaluation for Care, Counseling and


Psychotherapy
The following materials are taken from Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty available @ www.Sweetenlife.com

Levels of Problems and Pain


Type A Persons: About 70% with no life-interrupting problems.

Level I Very mature and healthy individuals -10%


Able to lead if equipped
Strong in relationships and fruit of the Spirit
Stable and deal with lifes problems
Full range of emotional life
Not blown about by every new thing
Need: Discovery of mission, gifts, call

Level II Can vary in healthy lifestyles from weak to developing-60%


Some are fragile but dealing with life
Need to be disciple
Need: Challenge to grow
Type B Persons: Some 30% with differing types and intensity of problems

Level III Ongoing issues and problems that cause disruptions-15%


Drinking too much
Worried or anxious, sad, angry and dissatisfied with life or spiritual conflicts
Is strong enough to work and learn from counsel
No harmful thoughts about self or others
Need: Pastoral or lay care and counsel, support group

Level IV Ongoing problems and pain-10%

Cannot meet personal, work, family or church responsibilities and cannot change
Misses work due to depression, anxiety, stress, drinking, etc
Compulsive behaviors with sex, drugs, food, gambling, anger, etc.
Unresolved family conflicts
Need: Professional Counseling and church support

Level V Acute Pain-5%

Lay and Professional counseling have failed to help and the pain increases
Ideas are distorted, cannot manage life, may think about harming self or others
Dangerous use of drugs
Need: Intensive care in a safe place
Page | 101

2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix E Depression Checklist

11161 Kenwood Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45242
(513) 769-4600 www.lifewaycenters.com

Depression Checklist
Please answer yes or no:
1.

I often feel downhearted and blue.

2.

I often have cry or feel like crying.

3.

I have trouble falling asleep &


sleeping through the night.

4.

I have: lost interest in eating, do not


eat as much as I used to, or am
eating more than usual.

5.

My mind is not as clear as it used to


be.

6.

I have no hope for the future.

7.

I am more irritable than usual.

8.

I do not enjoy the things I used to


enjoy.

9.

I have difficulty making decisions.

10. I am tired for no reason.

If you have answered yes to 3 or more questions, you are probably depressed.
Assessment Checklist Cards/Server/Mkt Ext/1992/ab

Copyright l999 LIFE WAY Counseling Centers


Page | 102
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Depression

Everyone has mood changes and emotional ups and downs influenced by life events.
Fluctuations in mood are considered normal, unless they interrupt normal functioning and cause
severe distress. If you are feeling exhausted, worthless, helpless, or hopeless you may suffer
from depression that will probably not go away by itself.

A person's spirit can endure physical illness but a broken spirit wears us down. Pr. 18:14

Depression and anxious feelings are the most common complaints in America. The most
important step is appropriate treatment because a well designed combination of counseling and
appropriate medication can effectively treat the depressive symptoms and restore one to a joyful
life.

Page | 103
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix F Anxiety Checklist

11161 Kenwood Rd
incinnati, OH 45242
(513) 769-4600 or www.lifewaycenters.com

Anxiety Checklist

1.

I often feel tired even though I have had a good night's sleep.

2.

Sometimes my heart seems to race out of control even though


my doctor says I don't have a heart problem.

3.

I often have insomnia.

4.

I worry a lot and have many fears.

5.

Indigestion, diarrhea, or headaches keep me from functioning


at my best.

6.

I can face some situations in my life without hyperventilating or


"going to pieces" only with the help of a tranquilizer, food or
people.

7.

I have one or more relationships that cause me to feel nervous


at times.

Page | 104
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

8.

I frequently work later than my coworkers and often bring work


home.

9.

I have at least one bad habit that I have not been able to
break.

10. Secretly, I just don't believe I measure up to other people I see.

If a majority of the statements are true, you could be suffering from anxiety.
Anxiety

About eight percent of the population experiences feelings of anxiety with unrealistic worry,
muscle tension, restlessness and fatigue. Other symptoms are shortness of breath, rapid heart
rate, dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, clammy hands, and difficulty with concentration and sleep.

Page | 105
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix G The Holmes Rahe Stress Check List


Below are a number of normal changes in life events. Circle the numbers for each of those
events that have happened to you during the last 12 months.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.

Death of spouse 100


Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Detention in jail or other institution 63
Death of a close family member 63
Major personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Being fired from work 47
Marital reconciliation 45
Retirement 45
Major change in the health or behavior of family member 44
Pregnancy of spouse/partner 40
Sexual difficulties 39
Gaining a new family member (through birth, adoption etc) 39
Major business readjustment (merger, reorganization, etc) 35
Major change in financial state (a lot worse off or a lot better off) 37
Death of a close friend 37
Changing to a different type of work 36
Major change in the number of arguments with spouse (a lot more or less) 35
Taking on a significant (to you) mortgage 31
A foreclosure on a mortgage or loan 30
Major change in responsibilities at work (promotion, demotion, transfer) 29
Son or daughter leaving home (marriage, attending college, etc) 29
In-law troubles 29
Outstanding personal achievement 28
Partner beginning or ceasing work outside the home 26
Beginning or ceasing formal schooling 25
Major change in living conditions (building a new home, remodeling) 25
Revision of personal habits (dress, manners, association etc) 25
Troubles with the boss 23
Change in residence 20
Changing to a new school 19
Major change in usual type and/or amount of recreation 19
Major change in church or spiritual activities (a lot more or less than usual) 19
Major change in social activities (clubs, dancing, movies, visiting, etc) 18
Taking on a small mortgage or loan (purchasing a car, TV, freezer, etc) 17
Major change in sleeping habits (lot more or a lot less sleep, or change) 16
Major change in number of family get-togethers (a lot more or a lot less) 15
Major change in eating habits (a lot more or a lot less food intake) 15
Page | 106

2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

40. Holiday or vacation 13


41. Christmas or other major holiday celebration 12
42. Minor violation of the law 11
Anxious stress can weaken our immune system and allow viruses to cause symptoms and
sickness. In 1967Holmes & Rahe wrote an article in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11:213219 that suggested damaging stress may arise from life changes.
Add the circled items. According to the Holmes-Rahe statistical prediction model, a score of 150
or less indicates a relatively low amount of life change and a 30% probability of susceptibility to
a stress-related illness. A score of 151 to 299 implies a 50% probability; a score of 300 or above
implies an 80% probability of experiencing a negative health change.
These predictions are not definite. What produces a change in health status is an interaction of
many things such as how significant those life events are to you, your personal capacity to cope
with change, and the available support through family, work and friends. However, completing
the inventory can give you some insight into the stressors that are potentially dangerous to your
health and well-being.
Stress can make us more susceptible to infections and communicable diseases. Many people
who get sick during a crisis have both physical and emotional reactions such as anxiety, heart
attacks, strokes, back problems, etc.

Page | 107
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix H Trauma & Abuse Checklist

11161 Kenwood Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45242
(513) 769-4600 or www.lifewaycenters.com

Yes

No
1.

Do you ever have dreams about being attacked?

2.

Do you have a general fear of others?

3.

Do you have difficulty enjoying sex?

4.

When you were a child, were you ever


uncomfortable with the way or place that an adult
touched you?

5.

As a child, did you ever feel guilty about the way


an adult touched you?

6.

Did an adult ever show you sexually explicit


materials?

7.

Did parental punishment leave marks or bruises on


your body?

8.

Did adults yell at, criticize, shame and/or insult


you?

9.

Are there periods of your life of which you have


little or no memory?

Yes answers to any of these questions may indicate that you have been the victim of trauma or
abuse.
Assessment Checklist Cards/Server/Mkt Ext/1992/ab

Copyright l999 LIFE WAY Counseling Centers

Page | 108
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix I How to Manage Feelings-Females


So convenient a thing it is to be a rational creature, since it enables us to find or make a reason
for everything one has a mind to. Ben Franklin
The woman was small and compact, dressed in a smartly tailored summer dress that looked like it came
from Sax 5th Avenue. I was immediately a bit anxious and had the thought that she was too high class to
respect me. But I quickly pushed the irrational ANTs out of my mind and tried to focus on her story.
She sat down and started to weep. She apologized and said, I know it is wrong to feel so bad. I am a
Christian and supposed to have joy but I just cant seem to be happy let alone joyful. You probably have
never seen a mature Christian as sad and upset as me. I am embarrassed to tell you this but I just have to
get it off my chest. My brother said I could trust you. He told me that despite the fact you are a Minister
you would understand.
Will you understand Dr. Sweeten?
I will try but sometimes it is very difficult to really understand the depth of another persons pain and
sadness. But, if you are willing to try I am willing to listen.
At that she began to sob and blow her nose. I handed her the box of tissues I always have handy and she
looked at me out of the top of her downcast eyes as if to see whether I really meant it or not. After a few
minutes Mrs. Petersen stopped weeping and haltingly began to tell me her story between protestations
that she realized how bad a sinner she was and how ashamed she was to have to see a Minister.
(Sometimes in sessions like this I begin to think this nice looking person in front of me is a serial killer or
guilty of embezzling from the church. However, many times, their sins are run of the mill failures that
most of us experience. People with a sensitive conscience can hardly bear to face them and are scared to
death of admitting them openly.)
After such a gushing of confessing secret issues, problems and feelings of guilt and shame we often
wonder where to begin. I usually find it best to ask a clarifying question to let them decide where to
begin. So I said something like, Well Mrs. Petersen, it seems that you are over whelmed with feelings of
guilt and shame about failing to be a Good Christian. However, I am unsure what specifically you have
done that is causing you so much remorse. Can you tell me the biggest worry of all?
My biggest worry is about my son, She said. I cant sleep because I constantly fear him getting into
trouble or failing in school. I know I am not supposed to worry or be anxious. The Bible says that anxiety
is a sin and every time I get worried I think I may go to hell because I worry so much.
In fact, the reason my brother told me to come in and see you because we had a big fight last week. He
yelled and screamed at me and I gave him a good lecture on respecting his mother. I had been up all night
worrying about him and when he came home in the morning he was very disrespectful.
So your son had been gone all night? Was he out carousing around or drinking?
Page | 109
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Yes, he was gone and I was worried to death that he was doing something wrong. But he was not
drinking or with girls in a care but at a church camp lock in at the YMCA.
And what caused you to be so upset and anxious?
I was worried how awful he was acting toward the youth leaders and the Minister. I knew that he was
embarrassing me and my husband with his stupid antics. So when he came home I just asked how his
night was and he made some smart aleck remark like he always does. Then the fight began. He knows
how to make me mad and upset.
So you had been up worrying all night and when he came home he seemed to verify your worst fears?
Exactly! I could see from the defiant way he looked at me and his tone of voice that he was guilty just
like he always is. He will never change, especially at church events.
I suppose the youth leaders have told you how badly he acts at the church?
Oh, no! They say he is an angel but I know better. They cant fool me. I can tell he is just like his
Granddad Jones. My dad. He is a Prodigal if there ever was one.
So that makes you conclude your son is a bad seed? That he is like his granddad?
Not just that. I can see it in his eyes. And, he is always flirting with girls and the girls love him and
swarm around him. I warn him that trouble is in his genes and he is headed for a big fall unless he repents.
MY dad was a trouble maker and sinner. He broke my mothers heart so many times and I can see that
same character in my son. I should never have named him after my dad. Mom said I would rue the day I
named my son James Ray and she was surely right.
So you think he is cursed by his name and by his genes? That the Laws of generations has gotten hold of
him and he cant get healed?
Well, an evangelist came to our church a few years ago and taught on the curses of generations and I
knew right then that James Ray was doomed.
Tell me what happened when he came home.
Well, by then I was beside myself with worry and anger. So, when he made that rebellious remark I
slapped his face and told him in no uncertain terms he had to respect me. I also told him that he was a bad
seed and was bound for hell unless he changed his rebellious ways. I just have to turn him around.
What did he do?
He ran up to his room and shut the door. My brother was there with his daughter and said I needed to
take him to a Counselor. But when I called for the appointment they said I had to talk with you first
before you talked with my son.
I asked if we could pray together and make a time for her to come back to talk with me again.
Page | 110
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Case Study #2. About Missy Cane


Missy was a young woman in her teens who was filled with anxiety and sadness about her life. Her
mother asked me to see Missy and help her feel better. The first day Missy came into my office with a
hang dog look with hair over her eyes and a tissue in her hand to wipe away the tears.
I greeted Missy and asked her to tell me about what was going on in her life. She began telling me how
badly she felt about herself. She was a failure in school, at home and in social situations. I am doing
badly in all my classes and everything at home is a mess. Nobody likes me and I just want to die!
I attempted to listen carefully to her story and understand the depth of her thoughts and feelings. I asked
simple questions like, It sounds as though you are failing your classes. Are the teachers telling you that
your work is that bad?
Oh, not really. she said.
In the last semester did you actually fail some classes?
Looking downward she replied so softly I could barely hear her say, Unh uh. I made the honor roll but
it is just because the teachers like my parents. I am really doing awful. I just know I am.
What can we do to help Missy?
After an hour of similar questions and answers, I got the picture. Missy was making herself miserable by
the way she was thinking. But she was convinced in her own mind that her feelings of misery were linked
not to her thinking but to her performance. Now what can we do about it?
I know! I will take Missy the anxious teenager through the Power Thinking Process. No group needs this
teaching more than teens. So, I asked Missy a similar question as I did Mrs. Petersen. Will you look at
my little paper and read it so we can discuss what you thought about it?
Missy agreed but only after letting me know she was a hopeless that was far beyond my ability to help. I
just know I cannot learn anything but I will take it home and read it.
At that point our great adventure really began. I went over the paper with each woman before handing it
to them. I pointed out to her the good news that bad feelings can be changed by renewing the mind.
I first gave a brief overview of a method to renew the mind to change feelings. Both had heard the
Scriptures taught many times, but had never known how to apply them in real life.
I said, Well, let me explain a couple of things about how the brain works. Here it is in a simple formula.
I proceeded to elaborate on a way it is possible to take charge of harassing feelings, stop blaming others,
and stop being so hard on yourself. It is the ABCDE Method of being sane.

Page | 111
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

A stands for Activating Event


Things that happen daily, especially if we see them as Adversities.

B stands for Belief Systems.


-Our unique perceptions, thoughts, values, self-talk, and memories that lurk in the shadows of our
minds to emerge when an Activating Event occurs and brings them to the surface.
C stands for Consequential Feelings
These feelings are generated by Beliefs, and are recognized as mad, sad, glad, anger, fear,
confusion, etc.
D stands for the Decisive Behaviors
Behavior choices we make that arise from our Beliefs and Feelings.
E stands to Examine and Evaluate my Beliefs for a possible change
Appraising the biblical truthfulness and healthiness of the Beliefs that create Feelings and
express themselves in Behaviors. We ask: Are these thoughts reasonable, rational and biblical?
To explain the ABCDE process I walked through the following story called Stormy Weather
Several years ago, our phone rang in the middle of the night shocking my wife, Karen, and me out of a
sound sleep. A high-pitched, shaky voice immediately asked if we had been able to sleep with all the
storm warnings on TV. Realizing it was our friend Julie, Karen mumbled sleepily, Uh, what
warnings? Julies retort was a lecture on how we should be concerned when storms are predicted or a
tornado would blow us away some day.
We had heard some warnings, but Karen and I usually consider them TV hype. Julie considered the
reports to be accurate and she was worried sick and stayed up all night with the family in the basement.
We responded very differently to the same announcements. We ignored them and peacefully slept all
night while she listened to the radio, thinking about the terrible possibilities. She was anxious all night.
What was the difference? At a very simple level, we decided not to get upset, and she decided to get
upset. (Our friend let TV weather forecasts control her feelings.) The formula was:
A = Activating Event
Storm warnings
B = Beliefs about storm warnings
Page | 112
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

(Julie) I am sure there are tornadoes heading my way. We are in danger! The TV
weather people are right about these things! It could blow us away for sure!
(Karen and Gary) Those TV guys are trying to get more viewers. They love to get
people all stirred up and excited with scary warnings. What hype. They can make a big
deal out of a little thunder storm.
C = Consequential Feelings
(Julie) Very worried, anxious, and upset
(Karen and Gary) Peaceful
D = Decisive Behavior
(Julie) Decided to stay awake all night, watch the weather channel in the basement.
(Karen and I) Decided to ignore the warnings and go to sleep
Insights: It was not the warnings that scared our friend and kept her up and it was not the lack of warnings
that made us peaceful enough go to sleep. Our Perceptions about the Activating Event Warnings) ruled
our feelings. Julie was anxious because she believed the warnings and concluded there was mortal danger
to her family. Karen and I made ourselves peaceful because we Perceived that the warnings were not real.
All of us jumped from the Activating Event (warnings) to our Consequential Feelings (fear or peace) to
Decisive Behaviors (wakefulness in the basement VS sleeping in bed) and it happened automatically
without really thinking it through carefully. We did not slow our mental processes in the Belief System to
analyze what thoughts were causing the feelings.
Now for the next step of Evaluating our Beliefs. Here we use a slow motion process to check the facts
in the story. An Evaluation gives us the opportunity to analyze exactly what we Perceived (Believed)
about weather reports, decide the rationality of each belief, and then to modify the Beliefs if necessary so
that the feelings they stirred up did not lead us to do anything foolish or unwise.
The Perfect Teacher
A wonderful school teacher with sky high ratings and many successes got married. Daughter #1. Was
calm and compliant. The mother took the credit and harshly judged all the parents who had unruly kids in
the neighborhood just as she had done as a teacher. Then #2. Was born and he had his dads personality
and hyperactive energy.
The mother had lived and taught as a perfectionist and was now faced with imperfection. She fell into a
deep depression and developed a cycle of angry outbursts toward her son. Any slight infraction, noise or
activity brought a stream and angry denunciations about the son and she told everyone how ashamed she
was of his unruly behavior. He legalistic, performance based world had collapsed. How would you
minister to her?

Page | 113
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Analysis
Mrs. Petersen, Missy and the Teacher. Analyze with ABCD their stories
Keep it simple with just one or two Activating Events and see what Beliefs are causing her Feelings.
Mrs. Petersen:
Activating Event
Consequential Feelings
Decisive Behavior
(Beliefs)

Missy
Activating Event
Consequential Feelings
Decisive Behavior
(Beliefs)

The Teacher
Activating Event
Consequential Feelings
Decisive Behavior
(Beliefs)

Page | 114
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix J How to Manage Feelings-Males


So convenient a thing it is to be a rational creature, since it enables us to find or make a reason
for everything one has a mind to. Ben Franklin

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony
of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple (Psalms 19:7).
The guy was a big, fierce looking man who, had I not known him, I would have avoided in a
dark alley after midnight. I was nervous just meeting him for coffee at Starbucks. I got there
early and saw him drive up in a new Corvette with an iPhone stuck to his cheek and a radio
blaring Jimmy Hendrix.
I wondered what in the world he wanted to talk to me about. Gabe asked if I would see him
over a cup of hot French Roast and see if I could figure out why he was so uptight. He certainly
didnt look like he needed anything I could offer. (That was probably my poor boy background
talking.)
Gabe came in, saw me sitting in the far corner, and asked what I was drinking. The real stuff,
I replied. He asked for a latte with cinnamon on top and I figured that anyone who would pay
$4.50 for coffee was loaded. After a few minutes of weather and Bengals talk, he jumped into his
issue with both feet.
Ive had it, he growled. I cant figure out what is wrong with me. Everything in my life
should be great, but I feel lousy all the time.
Has it always been like this? I asked.
No. I used to feel great most of the time, but now I am all bummed out.
Ah, so this is something new for you?
Well, not brand new. When I was a kid, I had some bad spells, but after I got involved in
sports, it got better. I was picked on a lot, but decided to work out and fight back so the guys
would want me to be their friend. That made me feel a lot better.
So, you felt good by being in sports then, but now you are back to feeling bummed out. Is
that right?
Yeah, I am out of pro sports now. I hurt my leg and cant play ball anymore. Right after that, I
started getting all nervous and shaky inside. I dont know why because I have it pretty good.

Page | 115
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

My contract with the Colts gave me a lot of money and I have everything I ever wanted. But,
Im pretty miserable.
People say I should cheer up because most men would die for what I have. But, I cant help it. I
feel awful. The docs gave me anti-depressant medication but it just made things worse. I felt
like a wuss because I couldnt make it on my own, so I threw it all away. Ive always had to do
it on my own. Even as a kid, I had to take care of myself. If I didnt, I would be in really hot
water.
What did you do when you were in trouble?
Well, if somebody was on my case, I would just knock them down and threaten to hurt them
real bad if they kept bothering me. In sports and school, I just worked hard and beat everybody
else in the competitions.
How did you motivate yourself to excel?
I beat myself to a pulp if I lost a game or failed in class. I would be really tough on myself and
say terrible things in order to psyche myself up. I hated to lose. I was depressed for days if we
lost a game, especially if I screwed up.
OK, Gabe, how do you handle failures now? Like with your wife, your kids, or at work? What
do you do?
Oh man, I still beat myself up. I call myself names, say I am stupid, and really get worked up.
We were playing Scrabble last week, and I messed up on a word. I got so mad I quit and went
home. Nobody likes to be around me when I lose. Then I beat myself up for acting like a jerk.
OK Gabe, I think we can work this out together. You are just the kind of guy who can get hold
of this type of problem and lick it. Why dont we set up another time to get together and see if
we can beat this thing?
All right, Doc. I feel like you understand me better. How about next Wednesday after I get back
from my golfing game in Hilton Head? Do you play golf?
Yes, I love the game. Ill see you Wednesday at 2:00 in my office.
A Week Later
The next week, Gabe and I had a few relaxed minutes discussing his golf trip and sharing our
mutual frustration at trying to hit a little white ball. Then he launched into complaining about
how bad he felt when losing at golf. I know it isnt important to win all the time. I just playing
for fun, but it isnt fun when I play so badly. I feel lousy about myself, and my anger gets the
best of me. My friends dont want to play with me anymore. What should I do?

Page | 116
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

I listened for a few more minutes, and then asked if he really wanted to change his miserable
feelings. I sure do. Everybody is on my case. Ive tried to blame my wife, my business, and my
age, but I know I have to do something different, but I dont know what it is. What do you
suggest?
The Bible says:
For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come
from inside, and make a man unclean (Mark 7:21-23).
I first gave Gabe a brief overview of a method to renew his mind and be able to change his
feelings. He had heard the Scripture taught many times, but had never known how to apply it
in real life. Well, Gabe, let me explain a couple of things about how the brain works. Let me
write out this simple formula. I proceeded to elaborate on a way it is possible to take charge of
harassing feelings, stop blaming others, and stop being so hard on yourself. It is the ABCDE
Method of being sane.
A stands for Activating Events Things that happen daily
B stands for Belief Systems. They are unique perceptions, closets of thought, learned values, selftalk, and memories that lurk in the shadows of our minds to emerge when an Activating Event
occurs and brings them to the surface.

Perceptions unique to me
Self Talk
Values
Memories
Convictions
Unresolved pain, wounds and hurts

C stands for Consequential Feelings These feelings are generated by Beliefs, and are recognized
as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, confusion, etc.
D stands for the Decisive Behaviors Behavior choices we make. They are expressions of our
Belief Systems and Consequential Feelings.
E stands to Examine and Evaluate my Beliefs Appraising the biblical truthfulness and
healthiness of the Beliefs that create Feelings and express themselves in Behaviors. We ask
ourselves: Are these thoughts reasonable, rational and biblical?
To explain the ABCDE process I walked through the following story with Gabe.
Stormy Weather
Page | 117
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

People like to think of themselves as rational beings, but Benjamin Franklin contended, We
rationalize, but we are not rational. Beliefs are filled with a combination of facts, unique
perceptions of those facts and my memories and values. The past and the present mingle in the
mind, and sometimes prevent me from thinking accurately with the power God originally
planned for us.
6For

this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of
my hands. 7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
II Timothy 1
Several years ago, our phone rang in the middle of the night shocking my wife, Karen, and me
out of a sound sleep. A high-pitched, shaky voice immediately asked if we had been able to
sleep with all the tornado warnings on TV. Realizing it was our friend Julie, Karen mumbled
sleepily, Uh, what tornado warnings? Julies retort was a lecture on how we should be more
concerned when storms are predicted or a tornado would blow us away some day.
We had heard some warnings, but Karen and I usually consider those reports just TV hype.
Julie considered the reports to be accurate and she was worried sick as she stayed up all night.
We responded very differently to the same announcements. We ignored them and peacefully
slept all night; she continued listening and thinking about them and was anxious all night.
What was the difference?
At a very simple level, we decided not to get upset, and she decided to get upset. (As I chose so
often as a youth to allow my family to control my feelings, our friend let TV weather forecasts
control her feelings.) The formula would look something like this:
A = Activating Event
Tornado warnings on TV
B = Beliefs about tornado warnings on TV
(Julie) I am sure there are tornadoes heading my way. We are in danger! The TV weather
people are right about these things! It could blow us away for sure!
(Karen and I) Those TV guys are trying to pull our chain again to get more audience. They
love to get people all stirred up and excited with scary warnings. What hype. They can make
a big deal out of a little thunder storm.
C = Consequential Feelings
(Julie) Very worried, anxious, and upset
(Karen and I) Peace, normal
D = Decisive Behavior
(Julie) Decided to stay awake all night, watch the weather channel and take her kids to the
basement.
(Karen and I) Decided to ignore the warnings and go to sleep
Insights: It was not the warnings that scared our friend and kept her up and it was not the lack
of warnings that made us peaceful enough go to sleep. Our Perceptions or Beliefs about the
Activating Events ruled our feelings. Julie was anxious because she believed the warnings. (She
Page | 118
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

thought: Were truly in danger.) Karen and I made ourselves peaceful because we chose not to
believe the warnings. (I thought: Theyre TV hype not reality.)
All three of us immediately jumped from the Activating Event (tornado warnings) to our
Consequential Feelings (fear or peace) to Decisive Behaviors (wakefulness in the basement VS
sleeping in bed), and it all happened automatically. We did not slow our mental processes in
the Belief System enough right then to analyze what thoughts were activated and causing the
feelings.
Now for the next step by Evaluating our Beliefs. Here we use a slow motion process to
evaluate the facts in this stormy weather story. An Evaluation gives us the opportunity to
analyze exactly what we Perceived (Believed) about weather reports, decide the rationality of
each belief, and then to modify them if necessary so that the feelings they stirred up did not
lead us to do anything foolish or unwise.
It is easy to understand the difference between us and Julie when our different Beliefs are
investigated. When a person believes that tragedy is coming, it is natural to feel fear, anxiety, and
alarm. This is normal. Julies actions (going to the basement) were wise and rational based on
what she perceived to be facts. The weather reports based on RADAR are usually correct and
she acted rationally to keep her family safe.
However, upon Evaluation, it was not very rational for Karen and Me to act as we did. We were
irrational to assume without further investigation that there was no storm coming and that we
would be safe. So, our peace was possibly a false sense of security.
Let Me Go, Let Me Go
We all have heard people say, You make me feel so bad (or mad, or sad) when you treat me
that way. This is a natural, common way to think and speak. Nevertheless, remember, it is
inaccurate and usually not very healthy. When we believe that others are responsible for the
way we feel, we are acting in a victim mentality! We are actually giving permission to someone
else to snatch power that belongs to us. We become a puppet waiting for them to control us!
Who wants that kind of life?
Giving oneself over to victimization leads to hopelessness and helplessness and makes life a
misery rather than a joy. For example, laws against hate speech actually infer that people are
just helpless victims who need the government to protection them. Those laws can be worse
than the hate speech they are designed to combat.
Back to Gabes golf game:
The next question for Gabe was this: So, Gabe, you are letting a little white golf ball control
your feelings and behavior. Would you like to stop being a victim?

Page | 119
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Sure, but Im not so sure you are correct. I get upset so fast that it doesnt even seem like I have
time to think! How can my frustration be connected to my thinking? It seems like they are
more connected to how well I hit the ball.
Gabe, think about this: We have been inundated with media hype about the tragic lives of two
beautiful, wealthy women: Anna Nicole Smith, a former Playboy Bunny and very wealthy
heiress, recently deceased. Despite her wealth and beauty, she lived in constant misery - not
because of her looks or troubles, but because of the ideas in her mind that attacked her selfworth.
Britney Spears is another beautiful, successful, wealthy woman who lost her sense of reality
and personhood. Reared as a Christian, Britney showed signs of great instability and started
dabbling in the occult, drugs, sex, and wild attempts to get attention. She recently shaved her
hair, and other signs of deep depression are observable. Her money, fame and beauty dont
make her happy or unhappy. Both come from within. External beauty, fame, money, partying,
and power are not the basis of inner peace. Joy arises from within the mind. Take a look at this
Bible passage.

Mark 7:14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and

understand this. 15 Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it
is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.' "
After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18
"Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can
make him 'unclean'? 19 For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his
body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")
17

He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21 For from within, out
of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice,
deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make
a man 'unclean.' "
20

Above all else, guard the heart (mind), for it is the wellspring of life. (Prov. 4:23)
Our language and thoughts are so powerful, why should such a precious, powerful, God-given
gift be thrown away to others? He placed His image in us, and that includes the ability to think
clearly.
A mental practice in taking responsibility for your own feelings might sound something like
this: I make myself sad when you reject me, or I make myself feel mad when you say nasty
things to me. I perceive that nasty remarks mean that you dont care about me. Wont you
please start being nicer so I wont be confused?
Emotional trauma VS Physical trauma

Page | 120
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Damage done by physical trauma is directly related to its force and placement, but emotional
trauma is quite different. Damage is raised or reduced by what one thinks about it. Dwelling on
the traumatic event in a harmful manner has the power to exacerbate emotional damage. By
allowing faulty thinking to dominate, the victim can actually re-traumatize themselves, and
it can become worse than the original.
One attacking comment from a complete stranger has the capacity to ruin a whole day if one
ruminates on it. In fact, as in the earlier example, even warnings about the weather can cause
emotional harm for some. However, this happens only if negativity is given control. Thankfully,
Power Thinking makes it possible to understand and manage feelings and behaviors.
Anatomy of a Belief System
The Belief System consists of:
Perceptions
o Personal interpretations of facts
o Sometimes accurate and sometimes not inaccurate
Self-talk
o High speed audios/videos of personal experiences
o Rewinds and reviews of life experiences
o Remembers and states positively or negatively
o The cause of most deep trauma
Memories
o Unique perceptions and self-talk about the past
o Facts and perceptions mixed and/or confused
o Can cause chronic feelings and behavior
Convictions
o Decisions about life
o Strongly held persuasions of right and wrong
Values
o Core ideas about relationships, right and wrong
o Morals
o Ethics
The Power Thinking Formula with Regard to Gabes Golf
Lets review the conversation with Gabe about golf. First, I reminded Gabe about the ABCD or
ACD-B. He was amazed that outside events do not cause his feelings. He was shocked to learn
that he was responsible for his feelings and behavior. It gave him hope that change was
possible! In addition, he needed hope because he was chronically bummed out with false
guilt over past temper tantrums and irrational behavior.
After some discussion, he began to grasp how formula could work for him, and started striving
to understand it better.
I drew the following formula on a Panera Bread napkin:
Page | 121
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

A = Activating Event - The ball goes into a water hazard.


B = Beliefs about the A- (Unknown at this point).
C = Consequential Feelings - Angry, sad embarrassed.
D = Decisive Behavior Decide how to react because of the feeling.
E = Evaluate the sequence to see what is in his Belief System.
I said It may seem like Activating Events control your feelings, but they dont. When the ball
goes into the water, you feel angry, and you yell at your golf club, you are blaming the event
rather than taking responsibility for yourself what you think about it. That makes you the
victim of that little ball, and you cant change how you feel. That little ball has the power.
Gabe responded by saying, I sure dont want to be a victim, and certainly not of a silly ball!
Why, Ive always tried to be a responsible person.
Pointing my pen to each letter, I replied, Remember, Gabe, every Activating Event of your life
gets filtered through your Belief System and causes the Consequential Feelings. Your brain will
usually skip your Belief System and just automatically jump from A to C to D as if your Belief
System is unimportant, or like it isnt even there. This mental short-cut can cause a lot of bad
feelings. The key to relief is to get to know your own Belief System well. What is it that you
believe about a bad golf shot that makes you feel angry?
Gabe answered, I dont know, exactly. Maybe I think that I am getting so old and decrepit that
I cant perform any more and Ill be rejected by my friends and family. The main reason I
always did great at sports was just to get peoples approval. If I cant do well now, will they still
respect me?
I could see that he was examining his thinking more deeply, so pushed a bit further: So,
youre saying that hitting a golf ball well actually means more than just having a good time. It
means that you are a man that wants to be respected as a real man, and hitting a poor shot
means you are a failure as a man. Is that right?
Gabe rubbed his chin a moment, and then slowly said, It sure sounds about right. Ive never
really enjoyed sports that much. I just made myself work hard because everybody liked and
bragged on me when I succeeded at them. If I cant succeed they may not like me as much.
I closed in for the focus statement. It seems that your Belief System is full of ideas, self-talk and
perceptions about acceptance and rejection being wrapped around how well you hit a golf ball.
If you dont hit it well, you actually think that people will dislike you. No wonder you feel as
badly as you do. If I thought the only time people liked me was when I was successful at sports,
I feel badly about myself as well.
It has taken you a lifetime to develop these ideas, so it may take a while to completely change
them. Its usually said that it takes 30 to 45 days to change a pattern of thinking. Now is the time
to start that process if you are ready.

Page | 122
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

After sharing this information with Gabe, I asked him what he ruminated on when he made a
bad shot. Oh, thats easy, Gabe quickly answered. I cuss myself out and think how stupid I
am. I really beat myself up verbally.
What motivates you to beat up on yourself? Whats your reward?
Well, I think itll help me want to play better. If I tell myself how dumb and stupid I am, it may
help me improve my game. A better game would be the reward.
Does it work?
Uh, well, no, not really. In fact, I get so upset I cant focus on the game.
Well, Gabe, if it doesnt work, why not come up with another way to handle it?
Breaking the Cycle
We call this Power Thinking because it brings a fuller activity of Gods power. To think
according to the dysfunctional world is unreasonable. The world is fallen, and always leans
toward sin; therefore renewing the mind is a challenge. It takes hard work and some people to
support our growth.
God took His chosen people aside and said: See I have I have set before you today life and
prosperity and death and adversity God said choose life. (Deut. 30:19).
RULES OF RATIONAL THINKING
As you work to renew your mind from timidity to power, ask yourself these questions.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Is it factual?
Does it keep me out of trouble and uplift my life?
Help me reach my goals?
Keep me out of inappropriate conflict with others?
Does it lead to peace?
Keep me out of conflict with myself?

For additional examples of the ABCD process see Appendix O.


Homework
Think of a recent event that you responded to with positive emotions. Write down the ABCD.
See Appendix R. for Feeling Words.
A. Describe the event
B. Fill this in later
Page | 123
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

C. Consequential Feelings that arose immediately


D. Decisive Behavior that you did immediately
B. Beliefs that caused my Feelings and Behavior
Repeat this process two or three times until it becomes easy for you.
Now write down the ACDB of an event that spawned negative feelings.

Page | 124
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix K Serenity Prayer and Meditation


This Prayer/Meditation uses YAWNS to facilitate peace
1. Get Comfortable
2. Purposely Yawn as many times as you like
3. Breathe Deeply
a. Breathe Out Negative Ideas and Self Talk
1. (Automatic Negative Thoughts)
2. Fears
3. Worry
b. Breathe in Gods Love, Peace, Blessings
4. Recite a Prayer, Song or Blessing
God, grant me the serenity to accept
The things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference
5. Allow names and faces to spontaneously flow throughout the singing,
praying
6. Bless the people God shows you with Love, Grace, Mercy, Peace,
Forgiveness, Healing, Shalom, Prosperity
a. Enjoy the positive feelings and thoughts as long as possible
b. Listen for guidance from the Holy Spirit about anything you need to
say or do
7. Move out and do what the Holy Spirit directed
a. Be Aglow in the Spirit and bless all you see
b. Love those nearest to you with patience and kindness

Page | 125
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

A Prayer for Courage and Serenity


Rev Reinhold Niebuhr

God, grant me the serenity to accept


The things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time:
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace:
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it:
Trusting that you will make all things right
If I surrender to your will:
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with you in the next

Page | 126
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix L Is Your Child Angry?

Is Your Child Angry?


Please answer Yes or No
1.

Blows when pressure builds

2.

Can't handle change and stress

3.

Shows rage at times of loss, pain, frustration or disappointment.

4.

Turns anger into shouting, tantrums, or aggression

5.

Can't calm down when he or she is angered

6.

Fights with others frequently

7.

Uses words as weapons

8.

Blames others

9.

Thrives on revenge

10. Refuses to take self-responsibility.


11. Lacks self-control
12. Has a low self-confidence
13. Does not care about the feelings and rights of others
14. Will not compromise or negotiate
15. Can not forgive others
If you have responded Yes to several of these items find a Helper to pray for you.
Page | 127
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix M Basic Principles of Theology


In a former work we examined the issue of theological foundations in some depth in
A Systematic Human Relations Model for Evangelical Christians, Gary R. Sweeten, Ed. D.
Dissertation, University of Cincinnati, 1975 and laid out the three assumptions upon which our
approach to counseling is based:
1. The supernatural tenets of orthodox Christianity are true.
2. Jesus is Lord of all life.
3. We are called to use the best methods of research and scholarship in a search for truth.
The first assumption addresses special revelation and is the broadest and most basic of the three.
It includes our basic philosophic assumptions about the world namely, that the Bible is
trustworthy and reliable in all that it states about God, creation and redemption.
The second assumption, that Christ is Lord of all life, denies Greek dualism and all other
statements that focus on a sacred/secular split between church and home, worship and work, faith
and works. It implies that all work and all behavior, both within the church and without, are to be
based upon and consistent with Christian principles. In other words, Christian principles are to
guide all of our efforts and involvements and are not confined simply to those activities that are
thought to be religious or sacred.
Finally, believers are to use the best of scholarship and science in a search for truth means that
no area of natural revelation is off limits to Christians. God has created all things, including
human beings; therefore we can study His creation without fear that the truth we discover in
natural revelation will contradict the truth that is in Scripture, the source of special revelation.
Psychology is the systematic study of the soul and its impact on human behavior including its
pathology and healing. Christians need to have no hesitancy about studying psychology or any
other science because the facts must be consistent with Gods revelation if they are to be
considered to be significant.
This implies that non-Christian scientists can discover truth that is consistent with Christian
principles even when they do not give God the glory. God has shed His grace commonly upon
the whole world and non-believing persons are capable of doing marvelous deeds of goodness
and love. We Christians can often learn from those who do not believe.

Page | 128
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

In my dissertation I compared the fruit of the Spirit, which are central to helping people in
distress, what Robert Carkhuff discovered in his outcome research about the essential skills of
counselors. Carkhuff studied the skills that distinguish effective and ineffective Helpers and
developed ways to teach the skills of effective helping.
Carkhuffs research showed that persons with little or no professional training were very
effective in helping people in distress. In fact, he found that lay people without formal clinical
training can be just as effective as trained clinicians if they relate to others in ways similar to
what Christians call the fruit of the Spirit.
Now we know that the caring quality of an interpersonal relationship is more important in
producing healthy change in Seekers than psychological or medical book knowledge. Carkhuff
called those behaviors that separated effective Helpers from ineffective Helpers the core
conditions of a Helping relationship. This is the process part of a relationship.
All relationships can benefit from the successful use of the core conditions. Of course, content
must also be added to the process if Helpers are to be effective. For example, interacting
acceptance and understanding with a friend in financial stress illustrates the process portion of
the relationship. Sharing a tip on a good investment or financial planning illustrates the content
aspect of the relationship. Truly effective Helpers express both aspects.
The materials for this course are focused on helping people follow Romans 12:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of Gods mercy, to offer your bodies
as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your true and proper worship. 2
Do not conform 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 Gods will ishis good, pleasing
and perfect will.
We see here that the key to living a life offered to God requires both content and process. It also
requires us to actively choose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit by engaging our minds with the
transformational power of God. We choose to engage our hearts and minds and the Holy Spirit
does a miracle. Transform in Greek was a word chosen by Paul that indicates an act of God. The
Fall damaged the brain and mind as well as the emotions, body and relationships. Healing the
soul requires both our action and Gods actions. Welcome to a class that will assist you in
defeating thoughts and habits of the flesh and replace them with the Mind of Christ.

Page | 129
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix N Different Perceptions


ITS ALL IN THE WAY YOU LOOK AT IT
Scene 1:
Men are comic! she said, smiling dreamily. Not knowing whether she indicated praise or blame, I
answered noncommittally: Quite true.
Really, my husbands a regular Othello. Sometimes Im sorry I married him.
I looked helplessly at her. Until you explain -- I began. Interrupting me, she said,
Oh, I forgot that you havent heard. About three weeks ago I was walking home with my husband
through the square. I had a large black hat on, which suits me awfully well, and my cheeks were quite
pink from walking. As we passed under a street light, a pale, dark-haired fellow standing nearby glanced
at me and suddenly took my husband by his sleeve.
Would you oblige me with a light? he says. Alexander pulled his arm away, stooped down, and quicker
than lightning banged him on the head with a brick. He fell like a log. It was awful.
Why, what on earth made your husband get jealous all of a sudden.
She shrugged her shoulders. I told you men are very comic.
Scene II:
Bidding her farewell, I went out, and at the corner came across her husband.
Hello, old chap, I said. They tell me youve been breaking peoples heads.
He burst out laughing: So youve been talking to my wife. It was jolly lucky that brick came to pat into
my hand. Otherwise, just think: I had about fifteen hundred pounds in my pocket, and my wife was
wearing her diamond earrings.
Do you think he wanted to rob you?
A man accosts you in a deserted spot, asks for a light and gets hold of your arm. What more do you
want?
Scene III:
Perplexed, I left him and walked on.
Theres no catching you today, I heard a voice say from behind.

Page | 130
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

I looked around and saw a friend I hadnt seen for three weeks. Gracious! I exclaimed. What on earth
has happened to you?
He smiled faintly and asked in turn: Do you know whether any lunatics have been at large lately? I was
attacked by one three weeks ago. I left the hospital only today.
With sudden interest, I asked: Three weeks ago! Were you sitting in the square?
Yes, I was. The most absurd thing. I was sitting in the square dying for a smoke. No matches! After ten
minutes or so, a gentleman passes with some old hag. He was smoking. I go up to him, touch him on the
sleeve and ask in my most polite manner: Can you oblige me with a light? And what did you think?
The madman stoops down, picks something up, and the next moment I am lying on the ground with a
broken head, unconscious. You probably read about it in the newspaper.
I looked at him and asked earnestly: Do you really believe you met up with a lunatic?
Im sure of it.
An hour afterwards I was eagerly digging in old back numbers of the local paper. At last I found what I
was looking for a short note in the accident column entitled:
UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRINK
Yesterday morning, the keepers of the square found on a bench a young man whose papers show him to
be of good family. He had accidentally fallen to the ground while in a state of extreme intoxication and
had broken his head on a nearby brick. The distress of this prodigals parents is indescribable.

Page | 131
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix O How to Write Your Own ABCDs


A Under A, record the Activating Event by carefully examining the situation that surrounded
what happened either in your outer world or in your inner life, i.e. your memories, imagination,
etc. Record the event as your minds eye sees and interprets it. Do not record feelings in youre a
section.
C Under C, record your Consequential Feelings. List the feelings that you can detect within
yourself which surround the event you described in A. Be sure to use feeling words, not idea
words. You may want to list several feeling words. The five feeling words happy, sad, mad,
scared and confused embrace nearly all feelings, and may satisfy several feeling words, i.e. panic
and fear are both scared. Appendix D may help you in choosing some feeling words if you find
yourself unable to think of the appropriate feeling you wish to use.
D Under D, record your Decisive Behaviors, those specific actions you took because of the way
you felt, that is, because of your Consequential Feelings. The Decisive Behaviors need to be
commensurate with the Consequential Feelings. If the Behaviors are strong and the Feelings are
weak, reexamine the Feelings and record stronger ones to more accurately correspond to the
Behaviors. You may find Appendix very helpful in doing this.
If the Behavior is weak and the Feelings strong, ask yourself these questions

How did my body react?

Did my stomach tighten?

Did I clinch my teeth or fists?

Did my mouth tighten?

Did I have thoughts or mental images of reacting in the way I felt?

It is important to record Decisive Behaviors that are accurate reflections of your Consequential
Feelings.
Following is an example of a missionary who shared about an altercation with his wife. Notice
that the Feelings and Behaviors do not have the same emotional strength.
A

Wife was late with car

Rage
Anxiety
Page | 132

2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Fear
D

Made another appointment

B
A cursory analysis of this abbreviated ABCD shows that the D does not match the C. In such
cases, it is proper to examine more closely the Decisive Behavior by active listening and
clarifying questions.
Some discussion or thought would likely reveal calmness on the outside, but violent inner
physical and mental behavioral reactions. (Appropriate questions are those listed above.)
The missionary in question recognized that he did indeed need to make another appointment, but
that was several ABCDs later. The first thing he did was walk out into the street and yell at his
wife: Where have you been?! Since that didnt seem so nice, he thought it better to relate the
more Christian behavior.
B Under B, the Belief System, examine what you believe (your thoughts, opinions, etc.) about
the event in A that produced the Feelings listed under C and the Behaviors under D. It is
important to keep your Beliefs, Feelings, and Behaviors connected and at the same emotional
level. To help yourself focus on your Beliefs, ask yourself questions such as these:
What did I think, about the Activating Event that produced the Feeling of ____ (e.g. fear) and
then the Behavior of ____ (e.g. gasping)?
What did I say to myself about A that produced the Feeling of ____ and the Behavior of ____?
What values do I hold that were violated in A and produced the Feeling of ____ and the
Behavior of ____?
What perception did I hold about A that produced the Feeling of ____ and Behavior of ____?
By asking questions like these about your Feelings and Behaviors, you are able to more clearly
see what your real Beliefs are.

Page | 133
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix P Marital Happiness Assessment


In Column A, check the statement that best describes your feelings. Column B, the spouse's likely response

Yes

Self

Spouse

No

Yes

No
1.

Marriage expectations
are being met.

2.

My spouse meets my
personal needs.

3.

Household
responsibilities are
satisfactorily shared

4.

We often have times of


small talk.

5.

We have good
memories together.

6.

We successfully
resolve our conflicts.

7.

We enjoy our sexual


relationship.

8.

We handle our finances


well.

9.

We share common
spiritual values.

10.

I like the quantity and


quality of our time
together.

Your answers of NO to three or more of these questions are a warning that problems may become unhealthy in your
marriage. More than four NO answers indicate an immediate need for counseling.

Assessment Checklist Cards/Server/Mkt Ext/1992/ab

Copyright 2009 Sweeten Life Systems, P.O. Box 498455, Cincinnati, Ohio 45249 (513.204.1644)
For help see Life Way Counseling Centers www.lifewaycenters.com

Page | 134
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix Q Transformation Growth System

Page | 135
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix R Feeling Words


GLAD

AFRAID

SURPRISE SAFE

SHAME

Delighted

Aghast

Astonished

Brave

Baffled

Enthusiastic Anxious

SAD

PROUD

MAD

Ashamed Depressed

Arrogant

Aggressive

Calm

Awkward

Discouraged

Conceited

Angry

Honored

Frustrated

Happy

Frightened Curious

Content

Foolish

Distressed

Hopeful

Nervous

Doubtful

Peaceful

Forgetful

Downhearted Proud

Loving

Scared

Indecisive

Quiet

Hopeless

Sorry

Important Furious

Optimistic

Terrified

Puzzled

Relaxed

Ill at
ease

Sorrowful

Satisfied

Hostile

Thrilled

Troubled

Skeptical

Relieved Sheepish

Unhappy

Stuck-up

Irritated

Joyful

Uneasy

Suspicious

Serene

Worried

Superior

Violent

Shy

Fuming

Guilty

Page | 136
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Appendix S Bibliography and Works Sited


Bibliography
1. Amen, Daniel. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. New York: M.D. Random House,
1998. Print.
2. The Cave Online. Fort Lauderdale High School. Web. 3 February 2012.
<http://www.thecaveonline.com/APEH/michelangelosbrain.html>
3. McNeill, John T. A History of the Cure of Souls. New York: Harper and Row, 1951. Print.
4. Moon, Gary W. and David G. Benner, Eds. Spiritual Direction and the Cure of Souls.
Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press Academic, 2004. Print.
5. Newberg, Andrew, Eugene DAquill, and Vince Rause. Why God Wont Go Away. New
York: Ballantine Books, 2001. Print.
6. Sanford, John Loren and Paula Sanford. Why Good People Mess Up. Lake Mary, FL:
Charisma House, 2007. Print.
7. Seligman, Martin, Karen Reivich, Lisa Jaycox, and Jane Gilham. The Optimistic Child. New
York: Harper Perennial Books, 1995. Print.
8. Seligman, Martin E.P. Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New
York: Free Press, 1998. Print.
9. Sweeten, Gary R. and Steven J. Griebling. Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty.
Cincinnati, OH: Author House, 2002. Print.
10. Sweeten, Gary, David Ping, and Anne Clippard. Listening for Heavens Sake: Building
Healthy Relationships with God, Self and Others. Cincinnati, OH: Teleios Press, 1993.
Print.
Works Cited
Alexander, Donald, Ed. Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification; Reformed,
Lutheran, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Contemplative. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity
Press, 1988. Print.
Barna Group, New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released, March 31, 2008.
http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/15-familykids/42-new-marriage-anddivorce-statistics-released
Coles, Robert. The Moral Intelligence of Children. New York: Plume Books, 1998. Print.
Eldrberry.net, Luther on Music, Web, February 23, 2013,
http://www.eldrbarry.net/mous/saint/luthmusc.htm
Page | 137
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Gottman, John and Nan Silver. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. New York: Fireside Press,
1994. Print.
Hurding, Roger F. The Tree of Healing: Psychological & Biblical Foundations for Counseling
and Pastoral Care. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985. Print.
Lewis, C.S. The ScrewTape Letters. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, Co., 1961.
Print.
Payne, Leanne. The Broken Image: Restoring Personal Wholeness through Healing Prayer.
Westchester, IL: Cornerstone Books, 1981. Print.
MacNutt, Francis. Healing. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1974. Print.
Milne, A.A. Winnie-the-Pooh. Original Version, 1926. Print.
Newberg, Andrew and Mark Waldman. How God Changes Your Brain. New York: Ballantine
Books, 2010. Print.
Payne, Leanne. The Broken Image: Restoring Personal Wholeness through Healing Prayer.
Westchester, IL: Cornerstone Books, 1981. Print.
Sanford, Paula. Healing Victims of Sexual Abuse. 1988. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House,
2007. Print.
Sandford, John Loren and Paula Sandford. Restoring the Christian Family. 1988. Lake Mary,
FL: Charisma House, 2007. Print.
Seligman, Martin E.P. Flourish. , New York, NY: Free Press, 2011. Print.
Stark, Rodney. The Rise of Christianity. Princeton University Press, 1996. Print.
McNeill, John T. A History of the Cure of Souls. New York: Harper & Bros., 1951. Print
Walters, Orville S. The Concept of Attainment in John Wesleys Christian Perfection.,
Methodist History, Vol X, Number 3, April, 1972. Print
Walters, Orville John Wesleys Footnotes on Christian Perfection, Methodist History, Vol XII,
Number I, October 1973. Print.
Watson, Philip. Compiled and Introduction, The Message of the Wesleys, A reader of
instruction and devotion. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1964. Print.

Works Cited Famous Quotes


Alain-Rene Lesage quote retrieved February 20, 2011 from http://www.specialdictionary.com/quotes/authors/a/alain-rene_lesage/108520.htm
Page | 138
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

power christian thinking


changing hopelessness to faith, hope and love

Eleanor Roosevelt quote retrieved February 20, 2011 from


http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/eleanorroo161321.html
Francois de Fenelon quote retrieved February 20, 2011 from
http://www.famousquotesandauthors.com/authors/francois_de_fenelon_quotes.html
George MacDonald quote retrieved February 20, 2011 from
www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_macdonald.html
George Mueller quote retrieved February 20, 2011 from www.1-lovequotes.com/quote/15622
Glenn Turner quote retrieved February 20, 2011 from
www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/glennturne108587.html
Martha Washington quote retrieved February 20, 2011 from
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/martha_washington.html
Mary C. Crowley quote retrieved February 20, 2011 from
http://www.finestquotes.com/author_quotes-author-Mary%20C.%20Crowley-page-0.htm
Ralph Waldo Emerson quote retrieved February 20, 2011 from
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/ralph_waldo_emerson_9.html
Victor Hugo retrieved February 20, 2011 from
www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/v/victorhugo130992.html

Page | 139
2012 Dr. Gary Sweeten, LPCC (Ret)

WWW.SWEETENLIFE.COM P.O. Box 498455 Cincinnati, Ohio 45249

How to Be Me in My Family Tree

Vision
We see an increase in the number and strength of
lively, healthy, growing servant leaders expanding
Gods truth, love and gifts to impact others in
socially, emotionally and spiritually responsible
ways.

At Sweeten Life Systems we:


o Help people build a lifetime of great
relationships.
o Train people in Business, Teams,
Leadership, and Families to live effectively
and healthily.
o Consult with organizations and provide
coaching and mentoring.
Great relationships help people feel better about
their work, themselves, and others as well as
inoculate them against emotional and relational
problems. We focus on using and teaching the latest ideas from Positive Psychology and
biblical wisdom to foster wholeness and maturity.
Let us help you build great relationships within your family, organization and business.

Contact us at:

http://www.sweetenlife.com
P.O. Box 498455

Cincinnati, OH 45249

531-744-4630

160

How to Be Me in My Family Tree

Inner Healing and Soul Care EBook Series


Healing Release of the Holy Spirit
Power Christian Thinking
Breaking Free to Be All God Intended You to Be
How to Be Me In My Family Tree
Other EBooks by Dr. Gary Sweeten
Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty
Healing Souls Touching Hearts
Listening For Heavens Sake
Free Downloads available at Sweetenlife.com
The Impossible Dream - Family Harmony in Everyday Stress by Dr.
Gary Sweeten and Cyndi Wineinger
How to Have a Peaceful Heart in a Stressful World by Dr. Gary
Sweeten and Cyndi Wineinger
Generation to Generation by Dr. Gary Sweeten

161