Who Needs Wings

After three days of early mornings, late nights, hard work, heavy lifting, no room for relaxing or deep breathing, I awoke early this morning and decided to sleep in. Five-thirty. So I made coffee with no gumption to do anything else. By mid-morning, I realized the most exerting and exciting thing I had accomplished was taking out the trash and making a second pot of coffee.

Stephen Mansfield suggested we ask staff members or friends (who can be trusted with a sharp object) to give us some insight on us to help us become better peers, leaders, family, friends:

What is my greatest weakness?

If you could remove one habit or tendency of mine in order to help me lead better, what would it be?

What is most off-putting about me?

What about me is most likely to cause me to fail?

What is something I like about myself that isn’t serving me well as a leader?

Before I put myself in that probable prospect for pain, I thought I should go onto the porch where the warm sun is and read for a while. Fortify myself. A perfect book for a day like today is Population: 485 by Michael Perry. Perry lives in Wisconsin, but he writes in a specific style by adding a comma to the end of each story as he thinks, and sometimes says, “That reminds me of….”

In one chapter, Michael Perry takes us with him on his jogging route and tells the stories of each house and/or people who live there. That’s when I met Herbie Gravunder.

“Herbie was stone deaf. A result, ironically or not, of the years he spent running a rock crusher for the county. And (his cousin) Delmer says in the old days they always pulled the mufflers off their tractors, figuring the louder the engine the more power it had. .

Herbie always had little tufts of cotton sticking in his ears, but then so did most of the old farmers I remember from my childhood. Anyway, what with the deafness, and the cotton, and the flannel earflapper cap he wore most of the time, Herbie lived in a muffled world.”

Herbie was a heartfelt cusser, a hard, hard worker and given to his own imagination for adventure. He bought a hovercraft that wouldn’t hover and a plane that wouldn’t fly.

I got sidetracked by wondering how Herbie and Delmar would deal with Stephen Mansfield’s list of questions. I also wondered what my siblings would answer if I asked them, or my high school friends? Or parishioners. A couple years ago, I saw a parishioner down town. I was wearing grubbies. He said it was the first time he had seen me not wearing a suit. I like suits, but I wear/wore them such a small percentage of time. Perception can be based on a very small sliver of information.

“The truth is, when I head out to run the loop these days, I feel better when I jog past Herbie’s place. Life can’t always counted off or neatly arranged.”

Michael Perry and his brother bought Herbie’s hovercraft at his farm auction. They rebuilt it and invited friends to experience the re-launch. “The deafening, dusty hoo-rah…was:

“…a celebration drawing on the legacy of a man who never let a lack of wings keep him from flying.”

Want to go with me to a farm auction?

©2021 D. Dean Benton

Population: 485, Michael Perry, Harper Perennial, Copyright 2002

Strategic Hubs

Carole and I were watching and listening to a teacher during our devotional time. He was talking about God’s Kingdom and shared what he is hearing God saying.

“‘My Ekklesia kingdom hubs will now begin to see miracles of realignment in people’s lives, government, and culture. This will be an era of miraculous realignment.”

The words that struck me most were, “Ekklesia kingdom hubs.”

Carl George served as director of the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth. His writing and teaching on the “Meta-Church” was built on the idea of Kingdom hubs. His 1991 book, Prepare Your Church for the Future, (Revell) is not just some guy’s idea, it seems prophetic for a time like 2021. The concept sub-title is “Large enough to celebrate, small enough to care”.

Many pastors, prophets, evangelists, teachers and apostles are saying America is on the cusp of our Third Great American Awakening. Without looking for it, I’ve been hearing a lot about revival and awakening.  There is a rising desire for an American Awakening.

One of my mentors was asked if he had ever seen a national revival. He said he had not, but he is desirous to experience one during his time on the earth. What he sees coming is a move of God that impacts our nation.

I’ve been wondering what a national awakening would look like—what the catalyst(s) would be and how such a revival could be shepherded. There have been regional events like the Wilmore, Kentucky college-based event, and historically, the Cane Ridge Camp Meeting revival. The Toronto Awakening comes to mind as does the Jesus People movement. God’s sovereignty is the catalyst in those as described as a “visitation.” God’s presence came in a dimension that was fresh, stunning, frightening. God “visited” and people were awe-struck.

An awakening creates an atmosphere where a general population receive an idea of God’s true nature and character—I think it will come in terms of His generosity of grace and what His judgement is about. Dr. Karl Menninger’s book title came to mind, “Whatever Became of Sin?” An awakening grows out of an awareness of personal and national sin that desperately calls for personal repentance and gracious forgiveness—grace-ious—because God is not obligated.

This weekend we watched a bio-video of Keith Green, a rock n roller on a search for truth. When Jesus entered his life, Green began to share his story—“He changed my life completely!” Those closest to him said Green was telling the truth. A resistant insider said she didn’t want her life changed. “I was happy with it as it was.”

The Western culture wants to return to normal—few are looking for a Person or power to change life “completely.” Jesus is welcome to come in if He will assimilate, but there are not wide-spread urges to fit into His Kingdom—kingdom come, will be done. How will Holy Spirit initiate that transformation? It is His job.

Over the weekend, we were reminded about the Brownsville Revival—Pensacola. Several years of daily meetings. People visited from across the nation, arriving in the morning to gain a seat for evening meetings. Lindell Cooley was the worship leader during that awakening. He now pastors Grace Church: Nashville. When I went to tell Carole about my experience, she was watching Pastor John Kirkpatrick preach. He was the senior pastor at Brownsville during the “revival.” I promise you, tuning in to Kirkpatrick preaching is not on Carole’s regular schedule. Something is going on here!

The word revival tends to have images and experiences of past generations or our past. The coming Awakening probably won’t duplicate what once was. Not everyone is going to plug into all the music or preaching styles. Like every other age, the awakening will be contextualized—it will speak many languages and fit into different cultures. Like the Day of Pentecost: everyone heard the Gospel in words and tones they recognized and understood.

Kingdom geography has always been about hubs. Not isolated events in isolated places, but in centers to which people traveled and then returned equipped and empowered. Think about the church at Ephesus—a cultural center and a training place. There are many such hubs in our world. I’ve included a link that focuses on what God could be doing related to hubs.

Pastor Cooley’s music leadership moved us from vocal music to preaching with the song,

More about Jesus would I know
More of His grace to others show
More of His saving fullness see
More of His love who died for me

More, more about Jesus
More, more about Jesus
More of His saving fullness see
More of His love who died for me.

Carole asked me, “Are we a Kingdom hub?”

©2021 D. Dean Benton

https://us5.campaign-archive.com/?e=87771728b9&u=21ae4b9aa9f11e4a8320b5ed6&id=9bcaca49ba

Called to be a weighted blanket

Walmart has a sale on weighted blankets. We’ve heard and discussed them. They are comforting—one-sided wombs, kinda. They were recommended during the height of the pandemic. Ten pounds. Got one. Haven’t decided. Ten pounds! The blue comforter may prove to be comforting, I think it is reassuring as I’m waiting for Carole to be bring my warm milk. I reacted to today’s challenges with anxiety. I wanted my blankie.

After thrashing about to find something funny about it, I can see how in fact, it could give a feeling of being embraced.

Award-winning writer, Karen Mains, is writing a new book about listening. She has directed 200 plus “Listening Groups.” Three or four people meet every couple of weeks. The format looks something like this: She invited people from her list of friends. These strangers to each other gather to listen. Karen welcomes and invites them to sit in silence. She gives these directions: One person talks at a time. Fifteen to twenty minutes. No questions, no comments, no advice—listening only. The person finishes, followed again by silence. Then the listeners are allowed to ask questions in reference to what they’ve heard. Silence follows and then another person speaks and the others listen.

David and Karen Mains have a friend from Chattanooga who studies the brain. He told them the brain responds when a person feels they have been heard, listened to and understood. In their podcast, Karen says she cannot repeat all the neurological words, but the brain of the person, who experiences being heard, responds with a “happy dance.” There is physical activity by the brain indicating pleasure.

After the meeting, Ms. Mains asks participants to think through each season of their lives and write the name of the person who “heard” them—really listened and understood. “They got you.”

There is something extraordinary to feel that you’ve been heard. Pastor David Mains predictably named a band teacher. Karen said she cannot remember a time when she was not listened to by someone who cared what she thought and understood. Perhaps not understanding the intricate details, but understanding why she would think those thoughts and how they would be beneficial to herself and others.

And you? Who “got” you when you were five? Ten? Fifteen? Now?

I wonder if the Apostle was hinting at an emotional/mental weighted blanket when he talked about the Armor of God. A grown-up mobile blankie that translates into security and stability? (Ephesians 6:10-18).

After a seminar, a lady asked us to forgive her for not entering into the discussion—most of all, for not offering any suggestions, ideas and opinions. She told us when she was precocious as a pre-schooler. She enjoyed adult conversations. One evening her parents had guests. She was sent to bed. She needed a drink and walked through the meeting room and stayed long enough to ask a question or offer a point of view. He mother put her in a closet for being impudent. She told us she spend many hours, thereafter, in that closet. She learned to keep her opinions and ideas to herself. (This story has a productive ending!)

Many therapists I read and hear say, “We have not yet seen the damage done to youth during the Pandemic lock down.” Isolation has the capacity to make the brain do whatever the opposite of the happy dance is. Trying to live life from behind a mask does not automatically build confidence or self-assurance.

Did you come up with names? A name?

A lady said to her granddaughter, “Come sit with me. Let’s talk.” The child said, “I love the sound in your voice when you say that.”

An acquaintance replies to my question, “How’re you doing?” with “Livin’ the dream.” I’m not sure if she is telling me all she wants me to know or she is being cynical. I do not have her permission to ask more questions. Within your scope of influence working hard to “hear” someone is an aggressive act to build strength and confidence in them. How would you like for that to be your legacy? I was a weighted blanket. Even better—I help those close to me feel heard—I get them.

© 2021 D. Dean Benton

For the David and Karen Mains podcast: “Before We Go”  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/tell-me-i-want-to-hear-i-want-to-understand-before/id1483224036?i=1000515129056

Have A Good Friday

Our Doug took a picture of an abandoned ore mine that ignites my imagination. The photo stirs a story in me about a hideout—an underground bunker. Have you, at least once, during the current culture non-COVID pandemic given thought to where you would hide or seriously hunker down?

Reading a report from CNN which says it is nearly impossible to determine at birth the child’s gender, I realized how often I’m thinking or saying loudly, “OMG!” as in praying. Or when hearing one of our brighter politicians say, “To call the ‘surge’ at the southern border an invasion is just the words of white supremacists.”  OMG- OH, My God!

Do I look to the government and news people that my life consists of Lincoln Logs, Legos, Tinker Toys, a digital mouse, a gullible mind and an open line of credit? Who gave the government permission to spend multiple packages of $ trillions? 

Frequently I wonder if I could minister to a community in that iron ore mine. But I wonder where I would shop for coffee, get natural vitamin D and fresh air. I also wonder what the optimum number is for a workable community and if I could find a USB port. How many bars would I receive on my phone and how would I publish blogs? I won’t even ask if you would help me pack for life in an iron ore world.

I’m serious about the density of my prayers with OMG! And “JESUS! Are you paying attention?!!”

Keeping in mind the approaching Good Friday 2021, I was accosted by Isaiah 61:1-2. I haven’t thought of those words for a long time—a sobering fact. To remember that Jesus used these words as His mission statement and I haven’t even thought about them is a concern to me.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Isaiah is said to have spoken/written these words forecasting the work of the Messiah: Preach good news, proclaim freedom, release prisoners from darkness, and proclaim favor.

How could I have neglected this? Note the demonstration and benefit of Messiah’s work (Isaiah 61):

“…to comfort all who mourn

Provide for those who grieve

Bestow a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

(Provide) the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

(Provide) a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

Listen to this list of recipients: poor, brokenhearted, captives, prisoners, you….mourning, grieving, marred, despairing, and the inadequate…the hiding.

Oh, MY God!

What an exchange: My need for His gifts—provision: comfort, beauty, gladness, praise.

Messiah shouts into the mine shaft—“I will change you, your purpose and image—how you will see yourself and how you will be seen.”   

“You will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor” (Isaiah 61:3).

Oh, My GOD!

Think of the energy released at the Cross to redeem and cleanse and change people and culture. Imagine the energy released at the Resurrection. From those fountainheads flows energy. Not just stuff to believe, but fuel—energy that can’t always be measured by Geiger counters or lightning meters.

It is what makes Friday good.  and the news the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Have a Good Friday

©2021 D. Dean Benton

Area Code-Southern Border

The words “Unaccompanied Minors” weigh on me. A decade ago we met and spent time with such a family of siblings from another continent. This time the Unaccompanied Minors are from countries such as Honduras. We have a fourteen-year old Compassion child in Honduras.

My wife asked me if I ever thought about Allie coming to live with us. Yes! I don’t know if it was a dream, a vision or my story-writing imagination in which we got a phone call from the southern border saying Allie was being transported to our house. I asked, “Is her mother with her? Her sister?” No, just Allie.

Whatever the source of that interaction, I began to calculate raising/nurturing a 14-year old in our small house. Days before that I wondered—for the first time—if I could build dormers on the south roof and how it would increase space. Was I being told about changes to be made? It is different to think of this person camping along the border with hundreds/thousands—which is a crisis for everyone—than to think of a teen whose face I recognize standing on our porch carrying a back pack.

“Buenos Dias!”

I have opinions about immigration policy. I cannot hear stories of child sex trafficking without feeling protective of Allie and fretting about her safety. OMG! If she stays in Honduras, the violence is widespread as is COVID and the on-going Dengue Fever. It is one thing to send workers (or money) to Honduras. It is quite a difference to have a Honduran child delivered to your doorstep.

My thinking and study is, and has been, wrapped around Seizing the Season which took me to Deuteronomy 26-28.

“When you have entered the land the Lord you God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the first fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket….” (Deuteronomy 26:1-2)

This is followed by directions of where to take that basket and how it is distributed.

“Then you must declare in the presence of the LORD your God, ‘I have taken the sacred gift from my house and have given it to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, just as you commanded me. I have not violated or forgotten any of your commands’” (Deuteronomy 26:13).

The Living Bible Translation says,

“Then place the produce before the LORD your God and bow to the ground in worship before Him. Afterward you may go and celebrate because of all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household. Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration (26:13 LBT).

My reaction to that is, what foreigners do I know well enough to invite to the celebration? An Illinois community where we’ve worked several times was feeling over-run by skate-boarders—teens hanging out in front of downtown businesses. Understandably, business owners wanted them gone. They were chased from several gathering spots and ended up at a church parking and front steps. The board took seriously their responsibility regarding insurance, liability and debris. The youth leader was gleeful. His mission field had been delivered to his door!

Should we be viewing the “hordes at the border” as opportunity? Since no one asked me; since I have no ideas or resources, I guess I can dream as outrageously as I want. Whatever the reason for the cover-up and forbidding of news people at the border, the Unaccompanied Minors are being used. They are seen as potential voters, sex-slaves, cheap laborers by some. Those with purer hearts view them as needing what America can provide. What does love require of us? What could be the Kingdom response? When we pray “…Your Kingdom come, Your will be done…” what does God’s heart-driven vision-plan call for? Those questions are not intended to be rhetorical. What would a solution from the heart of God look like? You can bet on the fact there are other principalities and powers and kingdoms that have plans for the immigrants that will take the Unaccompanied Minors into bondage.

Freedom/liberty has three elements: Winning, ordering, sustaining. Deuteronomy lists detailed ways liberty must be ordered in the Promised Land such as the correct use of weights and measures and labor relations for “fellow Israelites and foreigners living in your towns.” It is an extensive ordering—“You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain” (25:4). If the “devil is in the details,” you can safely assume Yahweh has a love-soaked directive and owner’s manual for such needs.

After conversations with business owners and managers it appears to me that there is a growing nation within our own borders made up of multitudes who do not know how to do life. They see themselves as victims and dependent with no hope for a shot at the dream. They have been on my mind as I ask what the season is that we must seize. This country has been on this road before. With regional and national spiritual awakenings have come gathered dreamers to offer solutions and strategies such as Sunday Schools, YMCA’s, holistic schools, trade schools. World Vision and other mission programs grew out of the Korean War era. We were personally touched by the Boat People of the 1970s. There have been entrepreneurs through the centuries such as Guinness and Cadbury who saw their employees’ wellbeing and growth their mission field. We can believe that God will raise up visionaries for the current crisis-challenge.

There is no inevitability. Looking at the thousands at the border, I assume some are coming to eat at the trough of American generosity. I believe a greater number are seeking a place to work and achieve—a land and environment where talent is rewarded and merit is encouraged. I have to believe that among the immigrant seekers are individuals and families that are committed to a biblical worldview and a concept of morality and individual freedom that replicates the longings of the best Pilgrims. I know some of them.

This is the season to welcome the foreigners to the celebration and teach them what it means to be an American as our Founding Fathers envisioned—

“In Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity….”

And experience with us, “…a new birth of freedom.”   Winning, Ordering, Sustaining.

Seizin’ The Season! Outrageous, but a Kingdom idea.

Do you know the area code for the southern border?

©2021 D. Dean Benton

Heart Healing

Congratulations. One year anniversary of The Pandemic. No bubbly for me, thanks.

Now Dr. Seuss is being cancelled and Mr. Potato Head has been neutered.

13,000 Unaccompanied Minors moving across the southern border into America. The government’s official stance is, “No problem!—No crisis.” The words, “Unaccompanied Minors” is a heart-breaking description.

I’ve been thinking, studying, writing about the suggestion from Solomon—the wisest man—recorded as Proverbs 4:23:

Above all else, guard your heart,

for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).

A quote from my manuscript Seizin the Season:

Most of my life I have assumed I needed to stand outside my heart with a weapon to beat it back into subjection because if it ever got loose it would do something horrible. There needs to be a guard, not to keep your heart from going on the rampage, but to keep all agents that intend to steal, kill and destroy it at a distance.

It is hard to imagine that any of us could live in this expanding season of madness without contracting PTSD or one of its cousins. This season calls for militant heart guarding. That includes a defense and intentional offense. The most effective guarding is soul-care—tending to your heart.

John & Stassi Eldredge speak to this in their Wild At Heart podcast. Rather than more words from me, I’m inviting you to hear what they are seeing and doing in this spiritual battle.  Helpful to me.

https://wildatheart.org/rhplay/podcast/homecoming-2021

Thank you for trusting me with this link.

D. Dean Benton

Steward This Well

The practice of disinformation, or propaganda as we used to call it, has been heavy on my mind. So has a part of the brain called The Reticular Activating System. It is at the base of the brain, about two-inches long and is a heavy-duty thought filter. The two have been messing with my understanding of discerning and discerning of spirits and my perception of truth.

The definition of RAS includes the phrase—the RAS filters out unnecessary noise…. The RAS is so powerful it will filter out any solutions, truth, or any strategy regardless of rightness or wrongness and sources depending on how we instruct it.

How do I know, then, for sure that what I “discern” is anything more than my ignorance and willfulness to hear only what will support my point of view? How do I discern accurately?

I noticed this when checking YouTube. If the post or program is more than 4 hours old, I usually think it is not fresh enough or is out of date. Perhaps I’m alone in this, I am so desirous to know what is going on that dictates activity in my world and hear as many opinions as possible that I want my preachers/teachers to help me understand, or to help me learn the import of front-page news from a biblical point of view . That determines what I want sermons to contain and what I want church to be like in these days.  Apostle, Preacher, Teacher, Prophet, Evangelist, what can you tell me that will bring order and light to the dark chaos and/or will instruct me how to respond with Kingdom fidelity?

Others don’t want to hear their preacher talk about those things. “I get enough of that from TV! Just preach the Word!” Listening to a podcast, I was hearing the same stuff I just heard another podcaster and guests say. That may be called “Circular talking.” I wondered how what I was hearing was anything but intellectual gossip. I shut it down.

Heavy on my mind, heavy on my spirit. I need time to monitor and recalibrate my RAS. I believe the Lord signaled me to schedule and honor appointments to hear His word and be in His presence. When God “speaks to me” it is seldom in capitalized, 20 point, red font. There is no shouting. That unique voice comes in italics, 14 point font. Listening to one of my trusted teachers, the voice came in 16-point font. The teacher and the voice said,

Steward this well!

Steward what?

An hour later, I was reading, TIME Magazine, Publish date February 15, 2021.  

The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election

It is a lengthy article which purports to be an exposure piece, but it reads like a news release from a self-proclaimed cabal about how they influenced and controlled the election itself and days leading to it and following it. It is stunning, shocking and sobering. The TIME reporter tells us that media, tech, “disinformation” are only public players taking orders from an unknown group.

You can Google this for yourself if wanting to know specifics. I also listened to Charlie Kirk talk about the article and announcement.

https://www.google.com/search?q=charlie+kirk&oq=Charlie+Kirk&aqs=chrome.0.0j46j0l6.19430j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8   Scroll to episode: “How they did it….”

We came away from this feeling “There is no use to try! No reason to fight for our Republic. We are already controlled by a faceless, nameless group of people.” Several opinionators react with disgust about the arrogance and bragging. “This is the way we did it!” I also think this “news release” is a warning—you—so-called WE THE People  are without power—you can’t do anything about it.

Steward this well!

I get it! Steward well how you interpret this, what you conclude and what agreements you make with it. Stewarding well is a big-font call to intentionally setting appointments to…

“…set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things….” (Colossians 3:2).

Not to the exclusion of our life on this planet at this time. We cannot choose between an openness to information and seeking/hearing God’s revelation of grace and healing. We are called to a physical response—tune your soul and plan times to recalibrate your RAS. “For the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16)–and restoration of soul.

Recalibrating!

©2021 D. Dean Benton

The 11:11 Mandate

Something spooky and then unnerving started happening to me several weeks ago. I began to see the numerals 11:11 on the clock. I would notice it was 11:11 while reading. I would roll over in bed to see the clock said 11:11. It happened 15-20 times. It was unsought and startling. One night I went to bed early and then woke up. It was 11:11. I passionately asked, “Lord, what is this about?”!! I was frustrated. Something was going on and I couldn’t figure out what I was to do about it-how I was to respond. I talked to my people who know more about such things than I, but nothing seemed to fit. I began to research. Eleven-eleven has a numerology meaning. It also has dark spirit meanings as well as New Age. I decided to see what the biblical meaning is. Here’s what I found.

The dictionary picture,  is an open hand. So I’m told. Two words are connected to the joined numbers of 11:11. They are transition and revelation. The connecting of an open hand in a transition time demands revelation. I am satisfied with that. It feels right.

Several years ago, I received a vision or dream that featured a hand opening a door. It was vivid and latched onto my soul. It was an exterior door with etched and colored glass on each side. Looking at the door from the outside, the hinges were on the right side and the door opened in. The hand had opened the door and in the same gesture invited the person to “go right on in.” My mental response was that God opens doors and He is desirous to do so. In recent months it seems to me the hand is also beckoning, not just gesturing, “Go on in.” But, to whom? For what?

The 11:11 stuff has rattled me with no resolution or answer. I thought it was over, but three nights ago there it was again. And last night, I looked into the bedroom and the clock was announcing 11:11. My soul jumped as if awakened by the scanner to an incoming alarm.

During these weeks, I wondered if it referenced a Scripture. Rummaging in the Bible to find an appropriate proof text didn’t seem right to me. This morning, Carole called me from my office to hear a trusted preacher/teacher reference Jesus saying in John 11:11:

“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going to wake him up.”

Is that what 11:11 been about? I think so enough to pray into it and contemplate it, but I am also open to further insight or revelation. Open hand, open door, transition, revelation and Jesus saying He is waking us to that which has been asleep or not consciously perceived.  Awakening to what has been hidden? Awakening to something we have not known, have dismissed or ignored? Perhaps been praying for.

A Great Awakening!

©2021 D. Dean Benton

The text is from Dean’s manuscript Seizin’ The Season  to be published later this year.

Hunger for Straight Lines

It is common knowledge and oft-repeated that every election has some fraud. Alright, if that is an inevitable given, what percentage of fraud is acceptable? Ten percent? Fifty?

I don’t think any of those who lied about Brett Kavenaugh to the Congress, news people and the American People were held accountable. What is the cut-off point for lying?

A measure of impropriety is to be expected, we are told. What is the measuring device? When does the gauge say “Enough! You are pushing it too far?”

I’m asking as a Grandfather. What shall I tell my Grandes? What should their moral and ethical standard be to exist in USA 2021?

I’m asking as a preacher. What shall I tell congregations and audiences is socially approved morality?

I’m asking as a Jesus Follower. What does He have to say? Does that matter as applied to my family, tribe, neighbors and nation?

I’m asking for my business friends. How much corruption is acceptable? What improprieties are unacceptable? How about insubordination? Disloyalty? Leaking secrets from the boardroom or R&D?

How much of this stuff can be tolerated before a nation, society, family, business implodes? I’m wondering if God directly judges or does He say, “Okay, have it your way. But know My laws tell you how to do business to avoid collapse.” God is not mocked. Neither are His laws built into the universe mocked with impunity.

“Improprieties” and “irregularities” appear to be the accepted regular and normal. Used to be that we learned to accept ambiguity and “the tension between opposite points of view.” Impropriety and irregular have gone mainstream, or is it just me?

I awoke with an edgy hunger for positivity—good news that is not only pleasant to the ear, but strength to the soul and muscle. My habit of insisting on the speaker have news less than 12 hours old has left me feeling like a cold bowl of spaghetti—twisted, not appetizing and no straight lines.

I read and thought about Philippians 4 and Psalm 37, listened to a couple of songs. Prayed for a list of people in crisis. Then I searched for a book I had set aside for a time like this.

Population 485—Meeting your Neighbors One Siren at a time” written by Michael Perry about towns in rural Wisconsin where friends have pastored and churches where we’ve set up sound, sung some songs and wrote on chalkboards—and desperately hoped we ministered.

Andy Andrews says Michael Perry is one of his favorite writers. He is a fine one. Perry tells stories about Stanislaw Jabowski in chapter one of Population 485:

“Spare, he was. Short, and lean as a tendon. A walking Joshua tree, with a posture less tribute to adversity overcome than adversity withstood.”

Revelation 12:11 has hung around my soul lately.

 And they overcame (satan and evil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

That takes the edge off. That gives me tools. Adversity overcome; adversity withstood.

©2021 D. Dean Benton

Damnatio Memoriiae

For I want you always to see clearly the difference between right and wrong and to be inwardly clean” (Philippians 1:10 L.B.).

Lucy asked four of her friends in the Peanuts comic strip to sign a piece of paper. Charley Brown says he doesn’t understand. Lucy demands he sign it. As she walks away she explains: “No matter what happens any place or any time in the world, this document absolves me from all blame.” Charley responds, “That must be a nice document to have.”

I wonder if Lucy would sell those indulgences. The current cancel culture may be a prime market. Getting caught between being responsible for nothing and being responsible for everything these days depends upon who holds the eraser.

It finally became very clear to me that what you say or do has nothing to do with your intent or words. It all depends upon what the cancelling culturist say you think, said, do. I watched as talking heads refused to answer, “Exactly what are the words Trump used to incite the riot?”

What is happening in the political world on this Monday is Damnatio Memoriiae of Donald J. Trump. Damn the Memory! It is more than trying to run him out of town as quickly as possible, it is the attempt to erase all memory, all acts, all friends, family and associates from the collective minds of America and Planet Earth. There is activity to exile Trump from ever holding office again, among other punishment. Witchcraft abounds!

This statue-topping, platform-erasure era is not new. The ancient Greeks and Romans made cancel-culture an art form. When I researched my book, “For The Best of Your Life,” I ran across the practice of “Damnatio Memoriiae”. Faces were chiseled off statues, names expunged from books and state records. Entire families were sometimes obliterated. It was the ultimate practice of photoshopping—once you were in the picture and now you’re gone. The practice was accompanied by a less final act that we call ostracizing.   

Socrates chose death over ostracizing. A definition:

“Voting ostraca. In Classical Athens, when the decision at hand was to banish or exile a certain member of society, citizen peers would cast their vote by writing the name of the person on the sherd of pottery; the vote was counted and, if unfavorable, the person was exiled for a period of ten years from the city, thus giving rise to the term ostracism.”

Victor Davis Hansen gives an informal explanation of the Cancel Culture:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fS1Dq1F0JpA

These are the words that now permanently define the Capital riot event:

“…a mob of Trump supporters occupying and vandalizing the Capital.”

“Pro-Trump Rioters Breach the Capitol.”

I have listened to a dozen or more people who were on the Capital grounds during the “breach.” I have concluded that there were several groups in that 500,000 to 1.5 million people gathering. Those I’ve heard describe a totally different mood on the march than the narrative on the “news.” They speak of singing, dancing and gathering in circles of prayers. They arrived to see a group at the front already pushing and shoving and fighting the with law officers. There was, I conclude, “Trump Supporters” with a different agenda than those singing, praying, dancing and shofar blowing.

I have read what the breachers did inside the Capital. I suggest you roll call all the Republicans you know by name—the ones who know your name—and ask yourself if any of them would steal furniture, break things and track their own feces around the Capital Building. Mr. Wray from FBI said about the Breachers,

“The violence and destruction of property at the U.S. Capitol building yesterday showed a blatant and appalling disregard for our institutions of government and the orderly administration of the democratic process.”

I refer you to the Pro-Trump/Trump supporters—people whose names you know. Do you think of them as having, “…a blatant and appalling disregard for our institutions of government…”?

People who attended Trump’s speech—the one that incited violence—say the speech was dull, long, low energy and monotonous. His “benediction” was something like “Many of you will be going to the Capital. Go peacefully and patriotically to let your voices be heard.” I am confused. Which phrase or word(s) incited violence? The marchers said they left the speech “frozen” and joyful.

On a Sunday morning, I announced that I would be preaching on Malachi 3 that evening. I wanted the people to read the chapter. While shaking hands at the door, the Mother of our friend Sam Kirk told me she knew what I was going to talk about. She quoted Malachi 3:16:

“Then those who feared the Lord talked to each other, and the Lord listened and heard.”

That was 55 years ago. The import and impact of those words have stuck in me. Mrs. Kirk’s words opened to me a Kingdom absolute essential. It is imperative that the People of God talk to each other. Masking, unfriending, cancelling, exiling and isolating may work in the rite of Damnatio Memoraiiae; it is not acceptable in the Kingdom. Thinking about this, communication is basic to humanity. Those who do it best with the best words and gestures tend to accomplish.

“…see clearly the difference between right and wrong”…requires intentionality where we get our news and information as well as who sets the focus and trajectory of our souls.

I abhorred some of the policies and activities of the Obama administration. While in my thinking and muttering to God and protesting the probable outcome, I heard God’s words if not His voice: Be careful! No witchcraft! Holy Spirit took me to class about damaging the Presidency while angering about the current president’s stance and edicts.  

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

We battle against spiritual:

      Rulers     Authorities     Powers of this dark world,     Spiritual forces of evil

   Can we talk? What Spiritual weapons are you effectively using?

©2021 D. Dean Benton–Jesus Follower, Independent Conservative, Tracker of truthful cause & effect.