Perfection Takes A Little Longer

The United States of America

This is our operating vision, our mission statement and brand.

Our goal and objective for people, groups and institutions:

A more perfect union.

Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that

  1. all men (people) are created equal,
  2. that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
  3. that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—
  4. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men (and Women),
  5. deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —

Preamble to

The Constitution of the United States of America:

We the People of the United States, in Order to…

  1. form a more perfect Union,
  2. establish Justice,
  3. insure domestic Tranquility,
  4. provide for the common defense,
  5. promote the general Welfare,
  6. and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

These are statements of vision, mission and who we are.  The Founders did not say these were accomplished or finished in 1776.   These are worth working for and praying into.

D. Dean Benton

 

Wicked! Who, Me?

2 Chronicles 7:13-14

WHEN

There is no rain.  Weather gone wild.

Locusts are devouring.   Killer bugs and germs.

There are plagues. Pandemics. These things are going to happen in the world you live in.

REMIND THIS TRIBE

You are My People,

You are identified by My Name

You are different, not better! Unique for a special task.

IF MY PEOPLE WILL

Humble

Pray

Seek

Turn

I WILL

Hear

Forgive

Heal

“If My People will…turn from their wicked ways…”

WHAT WICKED WAYS?

Second Chronicles 7:14 is most often spoken by revivalists as the key to an awakening—a reviving of God’s people. The year 2020 has been filled with the same scripture being the key to a reset for our nation. We now see it may be the only hope for saving Western Civilization. Early on, I protested, “I am not wicked! God, what do you want from me?” Instantly! Something in me said, “More repentance would be good.”

What am I doing; what is the Church of Jesus Christ doing that is so wicked it has caused race riots, pandemics and Chaos 2020? It must be so wicked that only turning from it will gain God’s favor and blessing. What can it be?

Let’s define “wicked.”

The English word evil or wicked comes primarily from two Hebrew roots, resh/ayin/ayin (רעע)and resh/shin/ayin (רשע). Both of these roots paint a picture of breaking something into pieces.

Wicked–Breaking something into pieces.

There are other words that could have been used, but the one chosen for “wicked” is specific. It is the same root word for “wicca” and “witch” and the result of this spiritual activity breaks something into pieces. It is not “sinful,” or “mistakes-mistaken,” the word chosen is “wicked.” It breaks something of value into pieces—beyond use or destroys its value. Implied—those who practice this wickedness are broken as well as the people who are touched by wickedness.

How would the first people to hear 2 Chronicles 7:14 (Solomon’s day) have reacted? What would they assume God was talking about? Today’s reading in the Chronological Bible (2 Kings 17:6-23) answers my question: The wicked ways would include, but not be limited to, making Yahweh just one “deity” among many. The people that God called “My people” had built shrines to worship the gods of those nations whom God warned about. They had sex with “sacred temple priests and priestess” to seek favor for crops and cattle. They burned their children as sacrifices to these gods, while ignoring or rejecting what Yahweh had already provided and promised to “My people.” The People of God had turned to hell for security and supply, and did terrible things. Sounds wicked to me. God had warned them—this will break your nation and people into pieces.

Old Testament prophets used the word Infidelity to describe Israel’s behavior. They looked to the surrounding nations to be the moral arbiter for God’s Chosen.

The Israelites worshipped Asherah (also called Asheroth, Astarte depending what nation.) She was known and worshipped as “Mother of Heaven” who purportedly was God’s primary wife. That seems to be a departure from reality, not just worship practice or rejection of God.

I am not a wicked person! Sinful; bent, if not broken, but not wicked. (Remember I am trying to explain all of this to myself without excusing myself of anything.) In the Kingdom, anything I do that would “break something or someone into pieces” would be branded as wicked. Let’s nit-pick and split some hairs. God said to Solomon “turn from their wicked ways.” It sounds to me like God was not naming people wicked, but calling their behavior wicked. That seems like an important distinction.

C. S. Lewis’ words describe what I feel:

“…it would be ridiculous for me to speak about…; that would be an attempt to teach when I have nearly all to learn.”

I am trying to be honest with the biblical context of 2 Chronicles 7:14 as well as looking at any immediate 2020 cause for the chaos. The words are directed to My people in the Old Covenant and the Universal Church of Jesus in the New. Two immediate dominant crises in this year: Covid-19 pandemic and racial complaints that the Marxist Left has turned into riots, killings, demands and plans to obliterate Western Civilization.

I have asked God to direct me to resources that & who will help me understand history, the future and what today is about. Dr. Shelby Steel and his book, White Guilt—How Blacks and Whites together destroyed the promise of the Civil Rights era. (Harper Perennial ©2006) have entered my world. I sensed I was to listen to this man. He grew up in Chicago and graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids. He speaks about race and the Black experience in words I understand.

Steel says there are two defining eras. The white racist era which ended in the middle 60s. He calls the second era White Guilt. What is going on in the streets is the result of “white guilt”. I differentiate between the organization BLM, (self-identified as Marxist) and the protesters. Because black lives matter protesters are seeking justice, equality while rioters generally are anarchists, insurrections and Marxists whose objective is to bulldoze America into oblivion and to build a new nation on top of the ashes.

Dr. Shelby Steel writes in his book,

“…white guilt may have gotten its initiating, big-bang start in race relations and America’s great acknowledgement of racial wrongdoing, but it was quickly expanded by all the moral authority that America began to lose to other conflicts, especially the Vietnam War and the struggle for women’s rights.”

“It doesn’t matter, for example, that there was honor in America’s acknowledgement of moral wrong in the era of race. An acknowledgement of wrong was an acknowledgement of wrong, and it brought a loss of moral authority—and thus, adult authority—despite the good it had achieved. And when you added to civil rights the Vietnam War, feminism, the plight of farm workers, a new environmentalism, a deepening animus toward materialism and corporate power, and a ‘credibility gap’ between young and old, you could easily make a damning case against adult authority. No previous generation had been served up a richer menu of social and moral ‘contradictions’ and ‘hypocrisies’ with which to hammer away at the moral authority of adult American society.” (p 87)

“I believe that the most important—if seemingly incongruent—point to understand about the sixties is that, like the sixties’ black militant consciousness, it was largely a response to white guilt. This guilt is the vacuum in moral authority created by all of white America’s moral failings and infidelities to democracy: racism, sexism, imperialism, materialism, conformity, environmental indifference, education inequality, superficiality, greed, and so on. Thus, white guilt is a much broader phenomenon than the ‘race problem’ from which it takes its name.” (p82)

“…conspicuous instance of infidelity to democracy.”

From the Christianity Today article by Timothy Dalrymple, Justice Too Long Delayed,

…“two original sins have plagued this nation from its inception: the destruction of its native inhabitants and the institution of slavery. Both sprang from a failure to see an equal in the racial other.”  (June 10, 2020)

Mr. Dalrymple, in the second paragraph of the article, describes the slavery of the early days of America:  “It meant white men repeatedly raped hundreds of thousands of black girls and women.”

That suggests ALL white men were busy raping. That would include the truly holiness people—those who sought to build a new nation upon biblical laws and principles. All of the male Pilgrims? I don’t think so. Is that something my white male friends would do? Did the Founding Fathers beat their “slaves”? Were all Neanderthals? Would I have beaten slaves? The problem with describing the worst is to broad brush the best. Having read about the lives of the Founding Fathers, I conclude that Neanderthals, beasts or cruel generally they were not. Figures of their times, they were, just as we are. Is it really true that, “…the white society around the slaves was often deaf to their cries and did not view them as human and worthy of love…” Really? The whole lot of whites? No one taught them to read? No one sought a better life for them? No one loved them? It is hard to fathom; it is hard to believe. Were we that wicked? Are we still? Am I?

After a Church Growth seminar, a little girl I had sung to in the worship time, ran to me and hugged my legs. Her mother chased after her and apologized for the tackle. We talked. She said kind things about her singing, message and seminar. She said, “I didn’t know what to ask during the Q&A. I don’t make any decisions—I’m not a board member and I have little influence.”

That conversation returns during my calculation of “wicked” and “white man’s guilt.” I keep thinking and saying in response to broad brush accusations, “I don’t remember getting to vote on this, or anyone asking my opinion.”

I can’t escape the so-called original two sins. I like Andrew Jackson, but I’m horrified at the Trail of Tears. Dear God! Nothing is more descriptive of wicked than the history of Native Americans. Broken into pieces!

WESTERN CIVILIZATION—WICKED?

Moving from Solomon, the Temple and circa 725 BC to 2020 AD, I wonder if these verses transfer. How would this wickedness look? Can it be identified? Would we recognize it? Can we transfer this to The Church Age and the Age of Grace? Consider this, When God says, “My people” in 2020, is He describing Jesus Followers? Colossians 1:1-11 says that we are “hidden in Christ.” If we are “in Christ,” such wickedness would then be in Christ. No! No! No! That cannot be interpreted to say that Jesus Followers cannot or do not ever step into sin from rebellion or ignorance.

Another paragraph from Shelby Steel has burrowed into me seeking solution.

An interpretation of our present battle for civilized life is—with an acknowledgement of racial sin in the middle 1960s, white people and their institutions (family, church, government, education, media, entertainment, ect.) lost its moral authority.

“The authority derived from their presumed innate superiority made whites gods of the earth whose every base instinct for plunder, rape, and systemic oppression could be legitimately indulged.”

Steel is interpreting this from a wounded, oppressed point of view. He goes on:

“The loss of moral authority went too far the other way, not only denying legitimacy to the plunder of the nonwhite world, but also denying it to that entire of difficult ‘character’ principles that bring coherence and even greatness to free societies: personal responsibilities, hard work, individual initiative, delayed gratification, commitment to excellence, competition by merit, the honor of achievement…” (page 109)

The end result of such is “breaking something/someone into many pieces.”

TURNING FROM OUR WICKED WAYS

A case can be made that Jesus Followers are called to be leaders in the redemption. I am not concerned about ecology or the environment because it is a social issue. I am going to be held responsible to God for any misconduct that broke His creation into useless pieces. Jonathon Edwards is not the only one to imagine falling into the hands of an angry God!

“In the age of racism, blacks were held accountable to these values and principles even though they were openly oppressed. Therefore, there was a cultural coherence in America based on these values and principles that applied to everybody despite the problem of segregation. This coherence, in itself, was a good thing, and was surely responsible for much that was great in the character of white and black Americans. Moreover, it might have provided an ideal consensus of values out of which to build a post-white supremacy society. But the de-legitimization of white supremacy greatly injured this cultural coherence by taking authority away from the values and principles it was based on. After America admitted to what was worst about itself, there was not enough authority left to support what was best.”

If I am mentally tracking right—at the same time in America, the foundation of those values and principles was being denied and deconstructed for our society: Biblical revelation, and rejecting God as a player or source of “unalienable rights.” Yahweh was taken down and moved to a museum so he would not hurt anyone’s feelings or make anyone uncomfortable. And God got into the advertising business: “Okay. Have it your way.”

Another dimension of “not enough authority left to support the best,” is the total absences of redemption. For confession of wrong and repentance to do its work, there must be good news of salvation. There must be forgiveness and expiation of sin. A broad-brush statement is that many in the Black community assume there is “no redemption” for these national sins and even if there were, white people and their institutions are beyond it. Until there is redemption proclaimed, offered and received, we will remain in this suburb of hell.

I have been instructed and touched by Dr. Shelby Steel’s thinking. He has helped me understand the wounds and history as well as politics that brought us to Chaos 2020. He writes from a mind and heart of a conservative, which means he desires to conserve what is worthy. His writing might be of value to you.

White Guilt—How Blacks and Whites together destroyed the promise of the Civil Rights era. (Harper Perennial ©2006).

TURNING FROM MY WICKED WAYS

In the 1960s, Quaker preacher, writer, theologian and teacher, Elton Trueblood, said every church should be a school of higher education. That caught my imagination. I increasingly saw the power in retreat centers, conference facilities and small interactive, sharing groups. When I heard about Dr. A. R. Bernard and his church, Christian Culture Center, the value of such churches took a firmer hold on me.

I can’t tell you who I heard say this and I missed his first element and I’ve added the fifth one which the speaker would have included in one of the other elements. You will notice that the Marxist groups have historically targeted these 4-5 institutions for destruction. They are also the core cluster in the Seven Mountain Mandate. The prophets have been telling us we must influence these places of mind-molders or someone else will—are!

  1. Shared History
  2. Family-marriage with parental involvement in education and teaching virtues.
  3. Education: School & informal
  4. Church—Where the Gospel is declared and embraced, there is/can be, upward mobility.
  5. Development-Cultural centers.

There is a realization that I can’t provide that for another race or culture, nor should I.

“We (Blacks) avoid the terrifying level of responsibility that freedom imposes by arguing that whites are responsible for our development. We even define full black responsibility as an intolerable injustice. Our understandable fear of freedom has led us to bank our fate on an absurdity: that we can develop by taking less responsibility for ourselves. We have defined freedom as a kind of heaven in which the inhabitants are forgiven responsibility. Thus, we have conspired to throw away the greatest power we have: complete responsibility for our own development, an opportunity that we have the freedom to assume.” (Page 68—Shelby Steel.)

Frederick Douglass and Malcom X responded to, “What shall we do for you?” They said, in different tones, “Nothing. Worst thing you can do is to do something for us.”

I have visioned a church—a weekly shared building and monthly shared celebration—by 4-5 churches of divergent colors and cultures to experience Kingdom fullness. That church would have a development center, an academy where the list above could be taught and experienced. For me (old white guy) to offer that is another type of colonialism or plantationism. (?) Certainly, not my intent! But to do nothing is not acceptable.

Someone has to be an apostle and put a pin on the map and say, “Let’s go there.” In an ideal world, perhaps in the Kingdom, that apostle can empower others. The object of the Kingdom and American Constitutional Democracy is not “break into pieces” but to pick up the pieces and remold them into wholeness.

Turn from their wicked ways…I will heal their land.

I am open to reckon with my wicked ways. Holy Spirit, come and reveal them and help me recognize them.

© 2020 D. Dean Benton–wonderer, writer, weeper

Okay! So We Need To Pray

If My People Will… (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Humble, Pray, Seek, Turn

I’m slow reading a C. S. Lewis book. Yesterday a statement turned on the lights.

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:14 TLBT:

The KJV translates it:

But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Not some of them, but all spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

“If My people, who are called by My Name…will pray.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

If all things spiritual are spiritually discerned, that gives us clues how we are to pray. Read again 1 Corinthians 2:14. Add John 6:44 to the mix. “No one can come to me unless….” What does “spiritually discern” mean?

I talked to a lady recently whose 84th birthday was the next day. It didn’t take us long to get into serious stuff. She told me she has a 5000 book library. Then she told about her children. Addiction is pervasive. She could not understand why one child would not listen when she talked to her—alcohol controlled the adult child. It cost her $ and her marriage and still the offspring maintained she didn’t have a problem. Reasoning or logic were totally ineffective in changing life-death decisions.

“Unless the Spirit draw….” Whether we are praying for family or looters, our words are “foolishness to them” if they are encircled by another spirit, a commitment to “worldly values” or carrying the wounds of the past. I think anyone who is dealing (strongholds) with addiction, abuse or involved with dark spirits, just don’t (maybe can’t) get it. Some are rebellious. It is not that the Spirit does not “draw” them. The Natural person has resistors surrounding them—they can’t discern or perceive what is being said. That tells us how we are to pray.

Discernment comes as a spiritual revelation about specifics in your soul or spirit that raises questions (I wonder?) or knowledge (I know!) in your mind about something of concern to you.

Pray against the spiritual bubble

A couple of almost always come to mind:

There are almost never bassoons in marching bands.

You almost never can reason with a rioter.

A dog chasing a squirrel will almost never hear you call her name.

I have been grappling with the construct of prayer. What is it and how do we do it? Lance Wallnau reminded me when the Disciples awoke Jesus in the midst of the lake storm, Jesus spoke to the storm and then He spoke to the fear or lack of faith within his friends. Two actions that outline prayer: Speaking to the mountain/ storm/ sickness/ barriers, ect., and speaking to the inner perceptions, beliefs, fears including the adrenalin, lack of knowledge and what we “know”.

“Praying into” is a term I haven’t used. It makes sense connected to  intercession. We are not trying to convince God to do what He wants to do anyway. The spiritual bubble is what Holy Spirit must pierce. He will not assault a person’s will or personhood, but He will, in appropriate ways to each person, confront their (our) misconceptions and false beliefs leading to bad behavior and inadequate responses. That is what we call “conviction.”

If My people will…pray… (2 Chronicles 7:14)

We are praying when we “send” Holy Spirit to a specific situation or a specific person with specific instructions. I cringe a bit at that statement—who am I to instruct God!? Well, God limited Himself how He relates to earth. The Earth was stewarded to Mankind, which Adam and Eve handed to Lucifer. Someone must give God “permission” to enter the Earth realm. That is what specific prayer does.

Given Daniel 9-10 and God’s interaction with Sodom and Gomorrah (as well as some interaction with Abram), I conclude that God delegates. I’m uncomfortable speaking to angels. We have been warned against “commanding angels,” but we can give Holy Spirit permission to send angels—created beings—to interact with situations and people to tell them Truth so they might respond to God’s call to confess, repent, follow.

It is not my intention to pray that people will think like I do. I have no interest in manipulating by asking God to sneak in one of my theories or faith beliefs. I don’t want my prayers to be a dimension of witchcraft by asking and using God to kick someone’s butt. (Many prayers for judgement inadvertently affect the poor, powerless and voiceless disproportionately. Lightning bolts don’t have very good aim—a lot of collateral shrapnel.) It is a surgical prayer while honoring a person’s will, relationships and God’s plan for which I aim. I do not want to invade their space. My perception of God is “He will lift you up” (James). He commands us for our benefit.

Loosing and Binding

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:19

In the pre-intercession praying, I sense we need to ask God—Father, Son, Holy Spirit—whichever one is in charge of this–what exactly needs to be loosed and what exactly needs to be bound. There are several facets to loosing and binding. I want to get this right, so I ask Holy Spirit to instruct me what He desires to bind and loose.

“Passive information receivers,” is a phrase Bill Bennett uses to describe the non-curious and non-fact-seeking news watcher. Heather Mac Donald appeared before Congress last week. Her words are insightful:

https://www.city-journal.org/repudiate-the-anti-police-narrative

Effective praying and seeking cannot be separated. What is always true about God? What is always true about His intent? What is always true about evil? If you know nothing more than that, you have enough to pray into the spiritual bubble and speak into the atmosphere = spiritual realm.

Polite, but aggressive, questioning is in order. What is true? How do I evaluate what I believe to be true? Who is the “bad” guy and who is making the claim? Who gains by changing things? What is God’s (as revealed in the Bible) view of injustice? What do I believe that is being questioned or attacked? How did I come to believe that? Could I be wrong? What am I denying if I change my mind? Am I “block thinking” or thinking for myself? Maybe I need to be loosed from passive thinking and acceptance. How do I question—what do I search, who do I talk to?

Praying includes binding myself to the mind of Christ and the will/plan of God. It includes loosing myself from perceptions built by prejudices, lack of knowledge related to specific situations and people as well as general ignorance. Matthew 18:18-20 gives us insight into praying for, with, into and against.

Sensitize the Receptors

Os Guinness wrote “The Last Christian on Earth.” Josh McDowell wrote, “The Last Christian Generation.” Both wrote about biblical ignorance among culture at large. Listen to testimonies of conversion to Christ and you will hear stories of a praying parent or grandparent—someone who taught them basics of faith. I wonder about praying into people and situations that sensitizes them to what Truth or landmark once guided them. What are the hungers that once challenged them or called them to a journey?

What if the person you pray for has no biblical-faith roots? What if the bubble fabric is made of dark spirits and anti-Christ beliefs? What about a totally different worldview?  Paul, teaching in Romans, appeals to natural faith or what nature teaches about The Creator.

Praying is giving Holy Spirit permission to enter the earth realm—a specific area of the earth realm to call people and situations to alignment with God’s Kingdom government—how God governs justice, redemption—all things righteous for all people. (Matthew 28).

What is the praying that moves the hand of God to heal our nation? It surely is not saying the right words in an exact way or sequence! It is not an acceptable physical posture or a preferred doctrine. I think and sense it is alignment with God’s purposes and plans. Since Jesus is our great intercessor, the constant question is, “Jesus, how are you praying for (…) and how may I join you?”

© 2020 D. Dean Benton

Email—dean@deanbenton.org

Website—https://deanbenton.org/     Benton Books, Blogs, Blurbs

Dean’s ebooks— https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DDeanBenton

Dean’s blogs—https://bentonquesthouse.com/

 

Militant Humility & Praying

GOD SPEAKING

2 Chronicles 7:12-14

WHEN…

There is no rain.

Locusts are devouring.

There are plagues.

REMIND THIS TRIBE…

You are My People

You are identified by My Name

You are different

IF MY PEOPLE WILL…

Humble

Pray

Seek

Turn

I WILL…

Hear

Forgive

Heal

………………………………………………..

“…not think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think ‘soberly’ as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3—NKJV).

“Don’t think you are better than you are Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us” (Romans 12:3b—TLT).

A few more words about humility.

Humble yourselves before the LORD, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10).

Whatever else is said, our stance before God is always to be humility. Humans are warned against exalting themselves against God—satan is our model of that behavior. He assumed equality. That is called rebellion. As important: When God says, “humble yourself” He is not pushing your face into the dirt just because He can or because He is insecure. The Father is all about—“He will lift you up.”

Humbling oneself is about self-perception and how we view God. It is about recognizing our place in the universe—He is God; I am not. It is recognizing and celebrating our place in the Kingdom. These words from 2 Chronicles have been like spiritual earwigs: God is not belittling, but calling us to correctly see ourselves in His sight and then living that vision. “I am God’s, therefore…!” God is declaring “THEREFORE!”

“This is KLUB Radio’s exclusive interview with Michael Jordan.

“Mr. Jordan, you have been called one of history’s greatest basketball players. What is your opinion?”

“Oh…I’m okay—if I’m having a game day. Most NBA players are better than me, even some high schoolers….”

I don’t think so! That is not humility! To “humble” oneself is not self-diminishment, debasement or denial of gifts, talents or abilities.

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves…” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Humbling oneself in the context of those words does not mean—“Oh, I’m nothing, not worthy of being the third verse in an old song. I deserve nothing…I am nothing…just crumbs and dregs.”

I can imagine the Holy Spirit smiling and responding, “Hey, Dude! You need to start a new group—Crumbs and Dregs. You could get your stage apparel at Missionary Barrel. Org.

Let’s hear God’s words—“If MY people, called by MY NAME….”

Not many people I know have a problem of thinking too highly of themselves. Mental self-hatred and self-bashing is common. Paul’s words “measure of faith” in the Romans’ verses, before and after, are related to spiritual gifts—the gift(s) God has placed in you. Measure yourself against that. How can we live with our face in the dirt given who we are—God’s People with His royal blood in our spiritual veins? An honest evaluation of ourselves! (If that is possible outside of Jesus’ view and investment.)

If you are a Prosperity Gospel Vigilante, you may want to get off this wagon, now. This conversation between Yahweh and Solomon takes place in the shadow of the luxurious Temple that had just been dedicated as God’s house. God is about to give Israel an assignment and a lifestyle. It all grows out of who they are and how they see themselves: “MY PEOPLE—MY NAME.” With that established, The LORD says, “If…will humble themselves and pray.”

(I wonder if “Turn from their wicked ways,” includes His people thinking it is about them? It is about Him! Perception is all there is! If God’s People perceive they are mere mites with no more value to Him or their world than a dead mosquito, they are flirting with blasphemy.)

If it is about Him, “Humble themselves and pray” is looking for what God is wanting to do and then praying in sync. If we are in alignment with His intent, then there is no need to plead with Him to answer. My spirit and soul jumped in response to a teacher’s statement: “I’ve been doing a lot of loosing and binding!” That praying is clearing any and all blockage that keeps God’s plan from being accomplished. Praying is speaking to principalities and powers on behalf of our Lord—“Let My people go!” We speak God’s words to the universe and all powers that are within our sphere of influence–all within the sound of our loosing and binding.

18“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  (Matthew 18:18-20)

A twist: Find what Heaven wants bound, then bind it on earth in prayer. Our battle is not to convince God, but to battle in prayer against all and anything that resists God’s intent. It is difficult to speak in abstractions. So we look at protests and anarchy through the lens of “Thy will be done!” How does God view stealing, killing, destroying? How does the Bible picture Deity’s view of the oppressed, poor, and abused? The neglected? How does He define those terms? How does God view governments, leadership, property owners, wealth, police, military and wealth-building? Let’s add education, media/creative arts, family, finances and business. Much of the Bible says God demands stewardship, generosity and grace in relationships. God is rather insistent on how those with no voice are treated. The themes and statements above have a predominant place in God’s Word, but none any more than personal responsibility.

Once those are defined and understood, then the praying is focused and militant. I am being urged to take care to whom and what I am taking a knee. To God only, not to what is soaking into our souls from the TV images. My praying will be negative or positive, hope/faith filled or fearful as a result. Praying will envision and express our “Therefore….”

Humble & Praying

© 2020 D. Dean Benton

Email—dean@deanbenton.org

Website—https://deanbenton.org/     Benton Books, Blogs, Blurbs

Dean’s ebooks— https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DDeanBenton

Dean’s blogs—https://bentonquesthouse.com/

 

Humble First, Then Healing

Where there is a lack of vision and leadership people will make up their own rules.

I have wrestled with 2 Chronicles 7:14 for months. In the middle of these promises and selfies of God’s activity, there is a verse that says…”If you will….” God will not, nor can He do these things for His people. Grace empowers us to do them, but grace will not do it for us.

Humbling ourselves is about kneeling before God, acknowledging we need Him. It is submission to His good plan and the normal reaction to His holiness and supremacy.

I’m amused that the Governor of Virginia is going to move the statue of Robert E. Lee some night–cloak of darkness. Just never know what a dead general on top of a horse is going to do some night.  You just can’t trust ole Robert Lee after all these years. That piece of stone is liable to fly off that pedestal and start something. (I confess my sarcasm. But I enjoy it–to make a point:)

Humility is not a posture. It does not describe a pose or photo op. It is about action, behavior, interaction, self-awareness and how we live and love.

If My people will…

Humble themselves

            Empathy

To humble oneself is to agree that I am not the center of the universe. As a Follower of Jesus, we are called from the sidelines. This is not a call to sympathy—feeling sorry for a person’s hurt, but empathy—to walk with and to enter into a person’s pain. That is a hard assignment and nearly impossible. I can’t enter into a black brother’s experience, but I can walk in step with him. I can ask him questions about his hurt or whatever he is experiencing. I can keep quiet and buy him a coffee as he thinks without telling me anything. I can guard his back when he cries or screams.

Seems this is only possible if there a relationship.

            Omniscience

Humbling oneself is to live a humility-driven life and lifestyle. I don’t know everything! It is possible that I have gotten some things wrong. It is possible I have concluded wrongly because I was taught or assumed/consumed inaccurate information. Maybe I’ve made agreements—Brene Brown’s statement can be stretched here: “I don’t have enough facts to freak out!”

One more avenue: Humbling oneself does not demand that you abandon all you know or all you think to be true. Humility demands that we examine what we “know” and “believe.” It is asking the Holy Spirit to “Examine me and know my heart.” (Psalm 51)

            Curiosity

Humility is a motivator—look into things. Ask questions, search out things. I have not understood Institutional Racism, nor did I want to. It is a bit clearer now. It is more than rhetoric and I have repented. I’ve read biographies. Some of those people of color are now my heroes. When we heard the stories of a family from Somalia, we were enlightened and able to extend a measure of empathy. Humility calls forth our curiosity–What does this mean? What is going on, here? What is my role in creating and solving hurt?

Be intentional what you choose to read and embrace. Know the writer’s bias and especially what they want you to conclude and to do. What is their “Therefore…?”

            Service

The bottom line of marketing is—the consumer defines value. The seller cannot define value for the buyer. Service must have value to the people we serve. Service is not about doing something we think is noble, therefore, helpful to the needy.

Carole and I were involved in a Maundy Thursday event where the men washed the feet of their wives as an act of humility and service. I am not a method actor, but I asked the question. “What are we trying to say by washing feet?” The answer was, “Just do it.” Wasn’t a satisfactory answer!

Carole hated it! I was glad to do it. I’m not too proud to serve that way. I rub lotion on her feet when they hurt. But we were both uncomfortable and it was meaningless. It had no value. The server’s quest is always “What can I do?” “How can I help?”

“If My people will humble themselves….”

©2020 D. Dean Benton

 

Important Life Knowledge

I’m sharing a Facebook post from a friend. It was not written with knowledge it would be shared beyond the original post. I have permission to share it. It is, indeed, a good place to start.
Dean

As we move toward a new world order, I sat down today and tried to problem solve how I’m going to manage homeschooling my kid for the next few months. It’s hard for me to imagine keeping my child occupied while still adding value to his life, without having him glued to a screen all day doing online school work. So I built a schedule that would allow me to feel confident in teaching him, balance my need for personal work time, and still keep him on track with a first grader’s pace.

WHICH GOT ME THINKING (oh god, I know, bear with me here…😂)- Why can’t I be teaching him first grade education level skills, but apply them to REAL WORLD CONCEPTS?! We don’t know what the future holds for us, and as much as I want my son to be book smart, I also want him to be culturally educated and have a broad perspective mindset.

So I made a list- “Important Life Knowledge”
Things I want to teach my son that he might not necessarily learn in school. Things that he will face when he walks out of my front door a grown man. Things that he may have to face before then.

As I looked over my list, I thought to myself- these are things I’m still learning. These are things I see people around me still learning. These are things I see grown adults not having the slightest clue about.

It inspired me to share the list with you all. Food for thought. Think about what these things mean to you. Think about if you’ve started teaching your kids these things. I’m sure I’ll be endlessly adding to the list as I start this new journey with (my son), and I’m sure many of you have lots of great ideas to add to this list as well! But I thought this was a good start.

Image may contain: coffee cup

Bringin’ It!–Chapter five

Bringin’ It!

R—Restoration,  E—Exercise,  A—Attitude,  D–Diet

The first days of this seminar were marked by my rigid diet. I was a month or two after open-heart surgery and being given a diet. Carole listened to, read and researched experts. My diet consisted of very little meat. I consumed protein from shakes and followed the best medical wisdom. That means I consumed and talked a lot about oatmeal, bagels and other carbs.

Of course almost every dietary “law” of that day has been discounted or changed. Cholesterol is no longer the biggest threat, although my doctor is pleased that mine is in a good range. I wonder if he is going to put a happy face sticker on my forehead.

In the face of that, I don’t talk much about diet anymore. I’m still concerned about nutrition. I’m not going to suggest what you should or should not eat. For decades, I didn’t eat donuts, ice cream, candy or sweet rolls, but now I long for cookies, pie and cake like a smoker wants a cigarette.

If we had the money we’ve spent on books about diets and dieting, we could make a down payment on a new car. My family is very knowledgeable about food, vitamins, supplements and how they contribute to body and brain function. I have settled here: Nutrition, moderation, common sense, listening to your body and biblical wisdom is a good way to go.

Dan Buettner is the founder of Blue Zones as a concept and author of The Blue Zones. (National Geographic, 2012.) In recent weeks, the Seventh Day Adventists have purchased Buettner’s company. Blue Zones is a life-enhancing read.

In early reporting, COVID-19 was linked to obesity, at least recovery was connected to dietary health habits. Since body resiliency is part of dealing with the pandemic, Blue Zone habits can be a tool.

A RATIONAL DIET

A rational diet in contrast to an emotional diet. This diet is good news—it helps us live long, healthy and productive lives. Somewhere in this series I have talked about exercise and diet including fresh air, plenty of sunshine and bare feet and fingers in the soil. This approach to nutrition reconnects us and energizes us. The subtitle to my book, Mosquito Park Secrets, is “How to Live Outrageously Happy Lives.” Westerners who live the Blue Zone lifestyle contend the good news effect is outrageous.

Buettner found LOMA LINDA’S BLUE ZONE SECRETS

Find a sanctuary in time. (One day in seven.)

Maintain a healthy body mass index.

Get regular, moderate exercise.

Spend time with like-minded friends.

Snack on nuts.

Give something back

Eat meat in moderation

Eat an early, light dinner.

Put more plants in your diet.

Drink plenty of water.

I now know at least two words used in Okinawa. Ikigai-–the reason to get up in the morning. And, moai—the tradition of forming a moai provides secure social networks. “Always someone there for me.” That is some diet!

A HEALTHY DIET OF PERCEPTION

Early on in this world-wide pandemic, I began to pray for friends and family specifically to enhance their emotional, mental, spiritual immune system. These seemed important to me:

Plans, Perspective, Proportion, Peace, Productivity

I left out the most important element: Perception.

Perception is easily defined by the twelve God sent into Canaan to spy out the land and report what they found. The twelve all saw the same beautiful and bountiful land as well as the giants and barriers. Each group had a multi-colored picture in mind. The twelve described the giants’ size; the other two said, “take a look at the size of grapes.

Ten said, “We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:31).

Joshua and Caleb reported,  “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it—we can do this!” (Numbers 13:30).

“Perception is all there is.”

That declaration by business writer Tom Peters and then others, seemed wrong, wrong to me. My perception is not all there is, I thought. There is reality! Peters’ statement is not global. My perception is all there is for me. In an 8:00 college accounting class I said, “That doesn’t seem right.” The teacher said, “Mr. Benton, you are welcome to your opinion, but it won’t work on a balance sheet or on my tests.”

Psycho-Cybernetics, the original book by Maxwell Maltz and the updated version written by Maltz and Bobbe Sommer has guided much of my thinking about human behavior. A director of the Maxwell Maltz foundation says people in a Covid-19 era need a reason to hope and a reason to believe.

Perspective and perception are attached, but different. Perspective is, “From my perspective….” Perspective of experience, standing, education, insight, as a Democrat or Republican. Perception is like your worldview. It is a brain “servo-mechanism” that determines perspective and guides in determining what will work. Perception gives permission to the brain to pursue, like a laser, the destination you give to your brain. Something like guard rails on a mountain highway. Perception marks danger or dangerous people and the route to success. Most of all, it tells us if we are worthy of success, belonging, loving. The most determining is perception of ourselves: self-image.

This reasoning says that people will believe only what fits with their perception. Much of the difference between Republicans and Democrats is their perceptions of reality, causes and effects. I listened to a political spokesperson and wondered how she could believe what she was saying. It contradicted the facts, as I know them, and projected a radically destructive outcome. The spokesperson wasn’t saying what she had learned or believed, she was telling what determines her life.   Perception is what we KNOW! 

I talk about perception in my book, You Can Handle It! (© 1988 Spring Daisy Publications).

“Your behavior—good, crazy, bad, sane, productive, self-destructive—comes from you inner being. This core mechanism gives you handles that you cling to in crisis and you depend upon to guide you in making decisions. These handles provide the coping mechanism that function or falter under pressure.”

“We always act in our own best interest—at least from our present point of view.”

“Eighty percent of your perception is visual. You do not think in many abstractions when you know what will meet a need. You have a real picture. You can see it.”

My thinking gripped the concept of Reticular Activating System and has not been the same.

Definition of RAS: “a diffuse network of nerve pathways in the brainstem connecting the spinal cord, cerebrum, and cerebellum, and mediating the overall level of consciousness.” This is an interesting piece of the brain and brain function. Put it in your computer search engine and see. It is what makes perception so important to how we act and respond to stressful events and feelings.

Again from You Can Handle It!

“It (RAS) is a filter that sorts out what we perceive as useful to us. If we have given that filter data to believe there is no solution for a specific problem or situation, the Reticular Activating System will screen out all solutions—we will not even see them.”

“Perception is all there is! An American proverb: Perception is so strong that if you do not believe there is a solution, you would not recognize it even if Fed-Ex delivered it to your front door.”

“You alone give meaning to events. The seriousness of any event is really in how you perceive things which is why Freud and Menninger taught that feelings are more important than facts.”

Still with me? Give me a couple of minutes to list sources from which we build our perceptions:

How Perceptions are Acquired.

  1. Biological needs (Survive, reproduce and function.)
  2. We need to belong. When we no longer believe that we belong, we question if we want to survive.
  3. Modicum measure of power. The less power we have—the power to get, provide, protect or determine–the more we stress. (Stress comes from inside us. We stress (verb) in reaction to external stimuli. Stress is not like pollen.
  4. Our wants. Some are legitimate, some are selfish. If our wants are threatened, we stress.
  5. Comfort zone.
  6. Influences: Social and culture context, heredity, current physical condition, mental health, psychological constitution, emotional wiring, personal values, attitudes, experiences, aspirations, education, spiritual maturity and view of God. Role behavior, personal values, reflex actions, brain wiring, spiritual beliefs, current mental health.
  7. Self-image. I have a five-foot two friend who weighs less than 100 pounds. She sees herself as fat. No one can change her perception—the mirror she looks into proves it to her. Our actions, feelings, behaviors and skill-building are consistent with our self-image, self-concept, and feelings of self-worth.
  8. Parental proverbs. These are interesting to trace: “Never loan money to, or do business with family.” “Good fences make good neighbors.” “We do not discuss family issues outside the house.”

In spite of the “diagnosis,” perceptions are not always wrong or negative. Biographer, Richard Norton Smith, says “Herbert Hoover became a victim of his own certainties.” Certainties are another way to say perception. An unexamined certainty  limits us.

Change your perception and you change your life.

Changing Incorrect or Inadequate Perceptions.

“…maturity does not come by age or accumulated experiences. It comes through basic responses to grace.” E. Stanley Jones

DISCOVERY

The discovery that one or more of our perceptions—our automatic response—is a grace-presented opportunity. That is a life journey bend. God won’t change your perceptions, but He will be or will send catalysts to question your certainties and offer alternatives. Agents include:

  1. Scripture can open the mind. A rhema word has the power to break through to teach something new. Beware—we interpret Scripture through the faulty lens we are seeking to refocus.
  2. Interaction with a broad range of ideas and people’s experiences. It is helpful to have a diet of information from those with whom we disagree. Why do they say what they do?
  3. New Information. All new discoveries are based on new information or on rearranged information. Discoveries follow seeking, asking, knocking.”
  4. Healing prayer.
  5. Direct revelation. Usually Holy Spirit works in combination with the above. Sometimes, He works apart from other stimuli. The soul receives a download of insight or mental adjustment. It is a gift of grace.

               DECISION

Discovery is not enough, we must make a choice and then act on it. Remember that we think in pictures not equations. The decision is to change the pictures we carry in that brain file labeled, “My life—the way I want it, the way I can get it.” What picture(s) come to mind when Jesus says to you, “I came that you might have abundant life.” How is abundant defined? Are you qualified to receive abundance? What does Jesus’ promise look like to you as you plan for life beyond the shut down? How is that different than pre-Covid-19?

We keep hearing that this shut down is a reset. Maybe the decision is first. We decide to hit the reset button and then ask how to discover what limiting perceptions need to be changed and what creating perceptions need updating and embracing.

DISCIPLINE

Nothing fights back like an old way of seeing things. Again, we create perceptions to be mental infrastructure usually without much thought. They become protection, pathways and safety producing coping skills. To change any or all of that threatens our being. We are talking about changing the way we see ourselves and the world.

“Once you’ve used your left brain to challenge your false beliefs, bring your right brain into play to create new ones. Don’t forget that the subconscious mind needs vividly realized images to agree and comply with—‘new memories.’” Maxwell Maltz & Bobbe Sommer

Upgrade your mental picture album.

A MOTIVATING DIET OF PURPOSE

Around 2010, Dan Buettner visited and then designated seven Blue Zones. Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan and Ikaria, Greece where he found secrets of the longest lived people. The common denominator is living with a purpose. Purpose! The Psycho-Cybernetics people call this “A sense of direction—an objective to pursue.”

You can read everything in this chapter to this point and say, “Yada, Yada, Yada,” or “Blah, Blah, Blah.” When you have a purpose, mission, dream or revealed direction, you begin to ask what trip-trigger perceptions will keep you side-tracked or disqualified. You will formulate mission statements and strategies. When that purpose grips you, you shed the inadequate or unsatisfying certainties or at least you will ask how to lose the insidious, invisible limitations.

Buettner met a nutritionist in Nicoya, Costa Rica who told him,

“We notice that the most highly functioning people over 90 in Nicoya have a few common traits. One of them is that they feel a strong sense of service to others or care for their family. We see that as soon as they lose this, the switch goes off. They die very quickly if they don’t feel needed.”

Buettner concludes,

“…it’s the human imperative to feel needed that keeps the river of life running…”

(The Blue Zones, pages 190-191).

HUNGER FOR THE DYNAMIC GOD

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland (Isaiah 43:19).

What is your reaction and response to those words? Does “new” scare you? To your way of thinking and feeling, how logical is “getting back to normal?” Was the old normal acceptable economically? How about spiritually? Biblically? Morally? How did the old normal square with your perception of God’s best plan? Who can be trusted with your picture of a new normal?

“I am doing a new thing. I’m about to do something new. I have already begun. Do you see it?”

God is dynamic, not static. That is one of Isaiah’s messages. Making a way is God’s brand. Our assignment is to perceive what He is doing and to join Him. In normal times, we could respond with “I see what you are saying.” These days a gut-feeling may be perception. Clarity may come when a soul nudge says there is a better, more effective, more efficient way. Keeping ones soul full is imperative. Sustenance is found in a couple of phrases.

“The joy of the Lord is my strength,” (Jeremiah 8:10).

In the flock of our lawn birds, there is one that demands our attention. He is larger than a hummingbird, and about half to two-thirds the size of a sparrow. As small as he is, he has the largest voice of all. His call and melodies fill the neighborhood. That bird exudes joy and an invitation to join him.

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work”  (John 4:34).

“Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

Bring It!

©2020 D. Dean Benton

 

Hunker Inn West Wing

My wife and I just think differently.

If something gets dropped on the floor, she wants it cleaned up immediately. My approach is to let dry and then get it with the vacuum.

Today she is busy cleaning the guest room and asked me to help her move the furniture. Who is she expecting? In this day of isolation and staying home, if we invite guests we’ll probably be arrested. Move the furniture? Yep! A total rearrangement. Everything in “The West Wing” except the bookcases. To my way of thinking, any virtual guest will not notice that the bed is facing a different direction and that the plants have been moved to the porch.

The most annoying is that she doesn’t measure time well. Again today she asked, “Will you help me for five minutes?” I know, even if she doesn’t, that we’ll be working on the project an hour later. Moving furniture in the West Wing cannot be done in 5 minutes!

I heard when China began to open up from Stay At Home!, the first stop for many couples was the divorce court. (I didn’t even know divorce was allowed in China.) The government clerks were unable to keep up with the crowds. These days can pull at relationship seams.

One of my go to thinkers and writers about marriage is John M. Gottman, PH.D.

“Certain kinds of negativity, if allowed to run rampant, are so lethal to a relationship that I call them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Usually these four horsemen clip-clop into the heart of a marriage in the following order: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.”

I come away from Gottman’s writing assuming the most dangerous is contempt. The other three can be fixed, but contempt is a heart issue that becomes physical.

“Couples who are contemptuous of each other are more likely to suffer from infectious illnesses (colds, flu, and so on) than other people.”

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John M. Gottman and Nan Silver. (Three-Rivers Press, 1999) Chapter 2—How I Predict Divorce—with 91% accuracy)

Men and women are different. We are wired different, we function from different brain hemispheres. Of course this is a generality. Unless we acknowledge and celebrate the differences, we move toward contempt. Because I love my wife and want to affirm her, I usually give her the five minutes she requests. (I respond to her requests for “5 minutes” with “you lie.”) The real reason is that I don’t want her to lift the chest of drawers.

Experience shows that furniture is difficult to lift while one’s body is leaning at a 45-90 degree angle toward the door.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Watch Mark Gunger, Tale of Two Brains

Bringin’ It! Chapter Four

Bringin’ It!

R—Restoration,  E—Exercise,  A—Attitude,  D–Diet

NOUN

“Attitude–A settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.”

synonyms:

point of view · view · viewpoint · vantage point · frame of mind · way of thinking · way of looking at things · school of thought · outlook · angle · slant · perspective ·

“A habit (attitude) is a pattern that you inhabit, and it is not so much something you see as something through which you see everything else.” (Michael Hanby)

I ran across Attitudes That Attract Success by Wayne Cordeiro in my library. “You are only one attitude from a great life” the subtitle proclaims. The page marker indicates I stopped reading at page 17. Dean! oh Dean! Oh Dean! I have several of Cordeiro’s books and all have been helpful, so why page 17? If I had a therapist, I think I would bring that up in our next session.

You need an attitude adjustment? Maybe a whole new set of attitudes? The pre-Covid, Western world mindset and attitudinal worldview left us wide open. Unprepared emotionally and spiritual for the non-medical collateral damage of this pandemic. The mental and emotional damage is and will be great, if we are to believe the people who know such things.

Andy Stanley said, and our friend Sam Kirk reminded us:

Your PRESENT will become your PAST that will impact your FUTURE

We carry into this crisis all we did not know and all the unhealed issues. Unhealthy attitudes grow out of our experiences and expectations interpreted by the self-filter. Cumulative is a big word in stress, depression, burnout literature. Negative stress piles up–“Out of nowhere he went ballistic.”

          AND THEN, THERE’S ME

A young friend asked the FB family, (and I quote!) “Why am I only good at fucking up shit?” Assuming that is not just a single bad day, the words indicate, “A settled way of thinking or feeling” which inevitably leads to discounting possibilities and one’s future. Probably in more delicate language, but with the same passion, we trash ourselves. Those words become biblical strongholds which lock us into self-diminishment and dismissal.

An aside. Through the writing of this series, I’m wide-eyed amazed how God, or colossal coincidences, put resources in my path just at the right moment. Thanks, Lord. Such as a book: Daring Greatly, Brené Brown, (Penguin, ©2012)

Brené Brown says the church in which she grew up made her feel, “…small, unheard, unseen.” She assumed that was the gospel. It still doesn’t feel like good news to her. Or to me. To be a Jesus Follower we must embrace the values and virtues of the Kingdom, not just acknowledge we are a sinner and need forgiveness. Some of us hear and feel “small, unheard, unseen.” God’s Kingdom message includes healing of the bad news that dominates the soul. Good News Bringers enlarge us, hear us, see us and talk to us about healing.

Stephen Mansfield said in a recent blog,

“That we are going through a bruising season is something I do not need to tell you. What I may need to remind you of is the toll it takes on you. The fear, the worry, the grief, the offense, and the sheer physical strain—even while you are simply sitting on your couch—all exact a great price. Medical doctors tell us that these forces drain us biologically and can even produce a destructive rewiring of our brains.”

Monitor the cumulative and respond with corrective and healing action. I’m still thinking about Ms. Brown. Did she ever talk to anyone about the “small, unseen, unheard?” What about my friend? We can understand how a person could come to feel what my friend does, but how do we continue to feel that until it colors out lives? Dr. Brown’s research leads her to believe scarcity is one cause. Listen to these words:

“Scarcity thrives in a culture where everyone is hyperaware of lack.”

“Scarcity doesn’t take hold in a culture overnight. But the feeling of scarcity does thrive in shame-prone cultures that are deeply steeped in comparison and fractured by disengagement.” (27)

“Never good enough. Never perfect enough. Never thin enough. Never powerful enough. Never successful enough. Never smart enough. Never safe enough. Never extraordinary enough.” Given the social media, Ms. Brown says, “…I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”

Or, inadequate.

Brené Brown concludes the difference between people who feel they belong, are loved, are capable of competence and those who do not is—I am worthy of being loved, belonging, being seen and becoming competent. Worthy. The Children of God receive worthiness through their relationship with God.

Who am I in Christ? Then plan accordingly! What does He say about you? Therefore! Adjust attitudes and adjust lack into enough. That is what repentance means: To change our mind, turn away from the destructive self-appraisal and walk in Kingdom values. Repentance is not a one-time thing to get us into Heaven, it is also the decision to live by God’s assessment and Kingdom values.

Someone posted their new tattoo on the back of their shoulder that says, I Am Enough! I think those words should be engraved where the wearer can see them at all times.

Quoting Seth Godin, “Plan and act accordingly.”

SEEING TOMORROW

Debi, Carole and I were having lunch with Uncle Everett and Aunt Fern. Although Aunt Fern was 55 when she married, she was concerned that Debi, then in her middle 20s, was not yet married. Auntie leaned in and in a pathetic tone, asked, “Do you have any prospects…at all?”

At all?

The one most emphatic truth I’ve learned in the past dozen years is that we have not done our work of “getting people saved” until we market in healing the whole person. If local churches and Kingdom entrepreneurs come out of this crisis with a renewed passion and vision, we will experience a healed land. Kingdom driven and focused on: not one child of God dominated by small, unheard, unseen and not one person who hears the Good News and drops his or her head to think or say, And then, there’s me.

I’ve been confused by 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people…confess their wicked ways….” What wicked ways?

An acquaintance loved the Lord and followed God’s call to build church buildings and communities. While doing his work, he alienated his children because of his own wounds. He lived his whole life with a broken spirit and shredded soul. The Gospel he loved never reached far enough. He ended his life by blowing his head off with a shotgun. Were there no Bringers? Or, if there were, did he not listen? It becomes personal Good News when the offer has your picture on it and you specifically apply it.

God, send Bringers of Good News who creatively tell the world that You are concerned and have provided healing for us body, soul and spirit. Send Bringers who will refresh us with Your Word to regenerate us.

   EMBRACING MY GLORY

“…You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up head” (Psalm 3:3).

When I first heard that song, I realized how unimportant “You’re my glory” was to me. I’m all in on “Lifter of my head,” but “glory” sounded too ethereal. Then I read Psalm 3:3. That phrase is not a song lyric by a spiritual poet; it is biblical—words of a warrior. David wrote this when he was running from Absalom, who was intent on killing the king and usurping the kingdom.

Thank you, Hannah for the C. S. Lewis book, The Weight of Glory, (©1949. Renewed Harper Collins, © 2001.) I want to share some of Lewis’ words as he talks about “You are my glory.”

“Glory suggests two ideas to me, of which one seems wicked and the other ridiculous. Either glory means to me fame, or it means luminosity.

When I began to look into this matter I was shocked to find such different Christians as Milton, Johnson and Thomas Aquinas taking heavenly glory quite frankly in the sense of fame or good report. But not fame conferred by our fellow creatures—fame with God, approval or (I might say) “appreciation by God. And then, when I thought it over, I saw that this view was scriptural; nothing can eliminate from the parable the divine accolade, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”….

“Indeed, how we think of (God) is of no importance except insofar as it is related to how He thinks of us.”

“To please God…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”

“Perhaps it seems rather crude to describe glory as the fact of being ‘noticed’ by God. But this is almost the language of the New Testament. St. Paul promises to those who love God not, as we should expect, that they will know Him, but that they will be known by Him (I Corinthians 8:3). Does not God know all things at all times? But it is dreadfully reechoed in another passage of the New Testament. There we are warned that it may happen to anyone of us to appear at last before the face of God and hear only the appalling words, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me.’ In some sense, as dark to the intellect as it is unendurable to the feelings, we can be both banished from the presence of Him who is present everywhere and erased from the knowledge of Him who knows all. We can be left utterly and absolutely outside—repelled, exiled, finally and unspeakably ignored. On the other hand, we can be called in, welcomed. Received, acknowledged…. And to be at last summoned inside would be both and honour beyond all our merits and also the healing of an old ache.” (Portions of pages 36-42)

C.S. Lewis is speaking in the last quote of that time when we shall stand before God as judge and hear Him say, “Come in!” or “Go away!” I say, while standing soul-deep in grace, that the Good News and good news are the foundation of meaningful and healthy attitudes. We have His approval! We are accepted, welcomed, received and acknowledged. We are in His pleasure.

To live to please God—feel, think, do—empowers us. No reason to be defensive or nasty. The knowledge of being accepted by God can grow healthy attitudes. It is the foundation of attitude.

I don’t want you to miss this from Lewis:

“Part of the bitterness which mixes with the sweetness of that message is due to the fact that it so seldom seems to be a message intended for us, but rather something we have overheard.” (p. 40)

Overheard as in intended for someone else. Not even in my cone of silence at Starbucks or Digger’s Rest does this seem personal, but in a private conversation God says to me, “You are accepted—I accept you. You are enough!” That does something to the soul and can influence attitudes tucked away inside or how we interact with our world.

What has this world crisis revealed to you about you? There are major-league attitudes that hit us like softball size hail; others eat at us like termites in our souls, to quote the doctor. Some just settle on us like, Oh well, it doesn’t really matter.

I question whether I should put product on my hair, trim my mustache, shave or use deodorant, after all who is going to see me. My wife’s example answers. She puts on makeup, fixes her hair each day and continues to remind me to clear the counter. She knows local or USA Today news people probably won’t drop by with cameras to do an article. But, her decisions are moderated by that overheard voice—how she feels about herself and her desire to please me. Yes!

Enough? Enough!

I was on my way to a pre-weekend preparation conversation. I don’t remember what the current economic crisis was in Ohio. I stopped in a café for coffee before the church meeting. There was a poster on the wall which showed a car in a dark tunnel. The driver said, “I see a light at the end of the tunnel.” It was a speeding train heading his direction. I tried to describe to the committee the humor and possibility of the cartoon poster. No one got it! No matter how hard I tried to explain, they just stared at me and glanced at each other.

Let me try with you. Reading headlines from the Internet does not present good grist with which to build your day, tomorrow, next week or your future. I walked away from the news this morning and was struck with—this really is a big deal! We are not going to fix it in the next few days. Dr. Birx says we will be wearing masks for months. Tyson Foods says the food supply chain is broken. And this plague is returning in the fall. I felt like Wil E. Coyote in that dark tunnel facing the on-coming light and The Road Runner had blocked my only escape route.

If we can get our assumptions, commitments and relationships right with Self, our Future and God, the probability that our attitudes toward other people and blockages will be in the positive range. It is part of the immunity package. The key is to…

      Plan and act accordingly.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

“Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

Factor of Plus One

Hunker Inn

I’m not depressed, feeling lonely, isolated or bored. At this point, I have everything I need. There is something I want that I can’t name and can’t find. Arby’s is advertising a creamy orange shake that may lure us out, which will a momentary pleasure, but I know it won’t satisfy long term. I’ve talked to my wife, talked to Jesus and although that was good, it didn’t fill that “spot.”

The word cumulative has been heavy on my mind today.

Last evening, a news report talked about a possible meat shortage coming by the end of the week and we’ll be wearing face masks perhaps all summer. I don’t need meat—as long as we can fry up some tofu. But I felt something new I’m not used to feeling. One of my favorite writers said, “Many of the leaders I’ve talked to are saying this is just a dress rehearsal to what is coming.”

Today we got news a friend, a person we really like and have vested words and prayer with, will be moved to hospice. Feeling! “Moving to hospice.”

Horse racing was a big deal in the 1920s. That dried up with Prohibition. There were no laws in Mexico against gambling or selling booze, so Tijuana became the place to be. The maintenance people mucked the stalls and carried it to a common place. Over time, it became Manure Mountain. It seldom rained in Tijuana, but a huge storm hit the higher ranges and floods swept down through the streets picking up M.M. pushing it through the club house, racing pavilion and wiping out everything in front of it until it sank into a body of water.

The destruction was not caused by the storm, but the storm plus. Somewhere in the time line, somebody tossed one more shovel full onto the pile. Tipping point! Catalyst! Breaking point.

Cumulative—storm plus one.

Psychologist, Dr. Archibald Hart says about anxiety—ask what is missing in you. What void keeps pushing us to the fridge or filling comfort food? In uncertainty, we look for reassurances, guarantees, explanations, reasons, something, any something that will take the edge off.

Peach cobbler with ice cream would help, maybe a satisfying coffee. But not enough. What is that feeling? Fear, maybe. It really hit me—this is a big deal! It could become as scary as all the terror movies ever made, added to all nightmares.

Cumulative—I’m thinking that word was spoken to me by Holy Spirit. We could handle most things if they came one at a time. But the stuff keeps getting tossed onto the pile. We can help ourselves by guarding proportion of what we hear, see, imagine, and try to solve. Limiting the stimuli is an act of faith—it is part of expressing our faith.

Positive cumulative—faith plus one. “Faith comes by hearing…the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Peace, Proportion, Perspective.

Monitor the cumulative

© 2020 D. Dean Benton