Tending the Wheat

Dr. Ben Haden pastored First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga. His bio is astonishing. His ministry was broadcast and published around the world and welcomed into my study. A former newsman, he told stories and declared Jesus. Ben Haden died in 2013 at age 88. His sermons and teaching had been on radio, TV and online for 47 years.

I think this story is about Haden: Someone said to him he should save some of his stories for himself. He responded with, “If I don’t share them, God will stop giving them to me.”

His line provokes me and stimulates me to get the stories to you ASAP. This is elbowing into my soul:

     FREEDOM—

“…the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom” (Os Guinness).

The forecast has been that America’s enemies would use “Freedom” and “Rights” against us to defeat and destroy us. Those who can’t tell you the Third Commandment or the Fourth Amendment are articulate about the First Amendment—the part about free speech.

Free societies must win freedom, maintain freedom and defend it. There are public declarations by people in the House of Representatives talking about replacing our government and turning USA into a Muslim state. How do we defend freedom from destruction, while gifting those enemies with freedom of speech? Dicey!

“…freedom always faces a fundamental historical challenge. Although glorious, free societies are few, far between and fleeting. In the past, the high view of human dignity and independence that free societies require was attained by only two societies with world influence: the Greeks with their view of the logos, or reason within each person, and the Jews with their notion of the call of God to each person.

“   freedom faces a fundamental political challenge. Free societies must always maintain their freedom on two levels at once: at the level of the nation’s constitution and at the level of their citizen’s convictions. If the structures of liberty are well built, they last as long as they are well maintained, whereas the spirit of liberty and the habits of the heart must be reinvigorated from generation to generation.

“    freedom always faces a fundamental moral challenge. Freedom requires order and therefore restraint, yet the only restraint that does not contradict freedom is self-restraint, which is the very thing that freedom undermines when it flourishes. This the heart of the problem of freedom is the problem of the heart, because free societies are characterized by restlessness at their core.

“…such are human passions and the political restlessness they create that the self-renunciation essential to self-restraint needed for sustaining freedom is quite unnatural.”   Os Guinness, A Free People’s Suicide, InterVarsity Press, 2012)

     YOUTH—

After talking with a lady about her daughter who walked away from a drug rehab facility, I was agonizing over how many teens and young adults are into drugs, practicing non-traditional sexual habits and choices and moving toward Socialism and Marxism. The center is not holding, nihilism is the philosophical environment. Fear, anxiety and doubt about the future is thicker than southern Louisiana humidity. Shelby Steel writes some ideas that resonate:

“Fidelity to a discipline of principles—rather than to notions of social or public “good”—is the unending struggle of democracies. And the legitimacy of democratic governments and institutions depends on the quality of this struggle.” (Shelby Steel, White Guilt, (Harper Perennial, ©2006) Page 11.

“In democracies, true moral authority is always man’s responsibility rather than God’s, and it can only be earned through fidelity to principle.”

After seven years in the pastorate, I went back to school. I wisely chose the middle and late 60s to put myself in university academics and discussions. I sensed, maybe discerned, the spirits that were invading. I have questioned what happened in the middle and late 60s that affects each generation since. Shelby Steel says some things that offer an answer:

“One purpose of youthful rebellion is to put one’s self at odds with adult authority not so much to defeat it as to be defeated by it. One opposes it to discover its logic and validity for one’s self. And by failing to defeat it, one comes to it, and to greater maturity, through experience rather than mere received wisdom. Of course, every new generation alters the adult authority that it ultimately joins. But if the young win their rebellion against the old, their rite of passage to maturity is cut short and they are falsely inflated rather than humbled. Uninitiated, they devalue history rather than find direction in it, and feel entitled to break sharply and even recklessly from the past.”  (Page 86)

It is the next paragraph that raised my eyebrows and understanding:

“The sixties generation of youth is very likely the first generation in American history to have actually won its adolescent rebellion against its elders.”

That rebellion occurred during the days when adult moral authority was declining and adults were not as certain as they were. Steel says the youth was “served up a rich menu of social and moral ‘contradictions’ and ‘hypocrisies’ to hammer away at the moral authority of adult American society.” Vietnam, women’s rights, racial issues, role of minorities all fueled the sexual revolution and “…over time, it expanded the vacuum of moral authority.”

Western civilization has not recovered that moral authority. Our institutions were invaded by dark spirits (figuratively and literally) and each generation has been affected. (At least that is how I’m reading history and interpreters.)

Speaking for Baby Boomers Shelby Steel says,

“So, just as all the very normal tensions of youth roiled and built into something like a will—the adolescent will to individuate—we met an adult world so stripped of moral authority that it could not do the timeless work of adults, which is to say, ‘Here, and no further.’” (Page 86)

Disturbingly profound insight. And, perhaps, a revelation. The prophet Malachi may be speaking to 2020 when he speaks and quotes God:

“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:5—last verse of the Old Testament).

Is that our call to reestablish moral authority? I’m wondering if that is part of the “turn from wicked ways” of God’s promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14. Only God can restore moral authority, but He cannot–cannot do it theoretically. Humans are required!

A major global ministry is restructuring itself to invest in and accommodate the youth during the expected Third Great American Awaking. The new structure sounds like the Elijah movement that is promised before “that great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

An odd experience for me: I asked the Lord how we should be praying for the enemies of the State and what we should be doing. Instantly, a thought came: “Let both (wheat and weeds) grow together until the harvest” (Matthew 13:30). With precision timing, a second thought (voice?) said, “Which works if someone is planting and attending to the wheat.”

If you read the Preamble, Declaration and Bill of Rights, you will come away saying, “That’s where I want to live! That is revolutionary!” It is not the foundation of our founding that is weak, it is that the foundation has been neglected. Freedom must be won, it must be maintained and it must be defended. Who is teaching kids the promises, rights and responsibilities of the Preamble, Declaration and Constitution? What those documents say is under attack 24/7. Where are they being taught to adults? Where is the “wheat” being planted and attended? Place the ingredients of American Experiment side by side with other options and the options are pale and undesirable.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident….” Not anymore.

“…the spirit of liberty and the habits of the heart must be reinvigorated from generation to generation” (Guinness).

Thanks for considering.

©2020 D. Dean Benton—Writer & Wonderer & Wheat-Tender.

Living Your Glory

One of our South Carolina friends reminded us that August 3-8 is Hummingbird Week in Mecklinburg County, N.C.  So that’s where our hummingbirds are! Two or three have been around all summer, but not the whole tribe. Carole faithfully cooks for them and keeps lunch fresh.

We ran out of regular bird food. I thought all those birds came to visit because they liked us. Apparently not. We’re down to a yard full of sparrows, a bald Cardinal, a tail-less squirrel and an opossum.

In his book, The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs, Joel Salatin asks,

“Is life fundamentally biological or mechanical?”

We better get that answer right!

“Let’s look at the word glory as it pertains to specialness, whether the thing is living or non-living. When we say ‘the glory of God,’ what does that mean? Moses want to see God’s glory. When God’s glory left Israel, what did that mean?

Glory means the distinctiveness of something, the specificity and uniqueness. That’s the common thread throughout all the (biblical) uses of “glory.”

  “…if the chief end of man is to show forth God’s glory, then our lives should honor God…. Notice how many times the Scripture uses the word glory for things other than God, showing a deep respect and honor for the uniqueness of created beings—and things. The point is that the sum and substance of our lives should point toward the Godness of God. And He wants us to understand that how we extend that respect and honor to his creation indicates our level of honoring His specialness.” (Page 19)

Maybe I better drop this caveat in here:

“To the greater Christian community, however, a phrase like pigness of pigs conjures up notions of animal worship and environmental flakes. It’s the kind of statement you’d expect from vegans and animal rights whackos. But I would argue that our view toward animals is a direct manifestation of our view toward each other and to God” (Salatin—page 25).

The bald-headed Cardinal has been around this whole season. At first, I thought it was molting, but if so, the top feathers forgot to grow in new. Somewhere, someone said a Cardinals head feathers are its crowning glory. It’s hard to tell if that bird feels like it has lost its glory. That squirrel climbs trees and has learned how to balance without a tail. I’m unable to speak about his/her self-esteem.

“You’re my glory, Lord, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3). God has deposited His glory in us—the image of uniqueness and distinction.

The story of Temple Grandin. Ph.D. alerted me to seeing “glory” in each living thing and respecting that uniqueness even in slaughtering. Salatin says, “This is not about making animals into people.”

“And God said, LET US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God….” Genesis 1:26-27

I think that image is seen in humans as uniqueness, specialness, distinctiveness. Since God is not physical, we can’t say that we got “God’s nose.” Amy Grant sings that she “Got my Father’s Eyes,” and that may be close to truth. Scripture says of God–He will not share His glory. Another use of glory, but He can’t and He doesn’t want want you to either.  Or to trade for pot of stew.

When God is dismissed as absent, a myth or incapable also dismisses all He stands for and for all authority. That dilutes the value of persons and the result is burning of Bibles, the mass abortion of babies and disregard for personal and physical rights. There are consequences when a nation abandons Yahweh. As said of Israel and several tribes in the Old Testament, they lost their glory.

The current philosophical battles—2020 Chaos—is a battle about and the results of answering Joel Salatin’s first question: Is life fundamentally biological or mechanical? The street battles and fighting the pandemic is about biological vs. mechanical. He says,

“Viewing life as mechanical, like industrial farming does, cheapens it, which in turn cheapens death. Is it any wonder that our culture is wrestling with increased violence among humans through…and a cheap food policy, which is actually a cheap life policy?”

“Price is definitely not the number one criterion: glory—does this food honor life’s distinctiveness?—is the number one criterion. After that’s been met, then be frugal.” (Page 28)

Seeing uniqueness, specialness, distinctiveness in each living thing and certainly in each person changes things. Seeing the value of each as an individual instead of value only in the “collective,” demands they be treated with respect. Uniqueness or distinctiveness are never a reason or excuse for misbehavior or lawlessness. The presence of glory in us raises the need for redemption. It is for the uniqueness of nations that Jesus said and says, “…go and make disciples of nations…” (Matthew 28).

Oh, the glory of Your presence!

There is a growing community of people trying to eat “right”. This pandemic is pushing more and more into home schooling, gardening and acreage farming. I hope the Green Deal extreme hollering, extortion, hyperbole and turning America into something other than what is her glory, will stimulate us to calculate our stewardship of this land.  Soil & Immunity.

We heard David Sinclair, Ph.D—author and longevity researcher at Harvard say, “I prefer death to an inconsequential life.” Some read the lines “…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as “life, liberty and pursuit of significance.” Seems to me, that need for consequence or significance is the indwelling glory being awakened. That is not possible in the mechanistic life. It is part of what Jesus alluded to when He said, “abundant.”

You will benefit by reading, considering and discussing The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs, Joel Salatin, (Faith Words-Hachette Book Group, 2016).

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Good Soil=30, 60, 100 Return–2

Grow Soil & Build Immunity

I’ve encouraged people to invest in land because “they are not making any more of it.” Rory Feek’s interview with Joel Salatin is captivating. Joel Salatin grows soil. He is making more of it.

Hours after watching the interview it occurred to me Salatin’s words may be a revelation of spiritual importance. There seem to be Kingdom principles here. Foundational atmospheric, universal truth. Kingdom principles and laws not because they make church better or help us not to sin, but because there is life and life-giving ingredients that counteract wickedness—that which breaks people and things into pieces. Good soil grows, not breaks.

In what kind of soil do people grow? How is social soil grown? What soil produces the happiest people? What was Jesus talking about when he said, “Good soil”? The questions are many. We have come full circle from the story of “Salting the fields.” How do we repair the soil that has been “salted” by sin? Infused with corruption? We can throw money and energy at fixing our institutions and individuals, but unless the “soil” is rebuilt, those broken institutions will only replicate themselves.

Institutions are only means to desired ends. They are tools to produce and develop certain kinds of people. As always, the initial and ultimate question is—what kind of people are we trying to produce? What is the molecular structure and hard infrastructure of the soil that helps produce that person?

I invite you to view and contemplate the resources below. What principles and laws do you see? What will develop people who will produce 30, 60, 100 fold return?

I heard a prophecy today that pushed me. “…people who will rebuild the ancient landmarks the Founders set.” Isaiah 58 comes to mind and Psalm 25:6

Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, GOD; rebuild the ancient landmarks.

Rebuild the ancient landmarks!

This nation’s soil has been depleted, worn, weary. It needs to be restored to feed the spirits and dreams of all. The prophecy heard, Carole asked what the ancient landmarks of America would be. The Founders wrote them down in The Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers and in the Constitution. And we get to restore them. We can place them once again in the soil of America.

We have walked the hills of Gettysburg and felt the life of that soil. Abraham Lincoln finished that astonishing short speech with these words…

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

We can declare into the atmosphere—the spiritual realm that manifests in the material—the landmarks that built this nation. We can say each active line out loud—by faith, declaring it to be a reality renewed. We can pray to Almighty God to loose these truths and energies into the citizens and three branches of government. Day by day. We will replenish the “soil” one landmark per day. If we say each “self-evident” truth out loud, we will be directed who to pray for generally and in specifics always with images of “the people.” We will learn how.

 Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that…

Day 1        All men (people) are created equal,

Day 2        That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,

Day 3        That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—

Day 4        That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among (people),

Day 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…

Day 6        Form a more perfect Union,

Day 7        Establish Justice,

Day 8        Insure domestic Tranquility,

Day 9        Provide for the common defense,

Day 10     Promote the general Welfare,

Day 11    Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

My practice is to verbalize the landmark. On day 7, I say “in order to establish justice…” I pray concerning the experiences of injustice to be changed and healed. I ask for forgiveness of my thoughts or actions that were unjust or reinforced an unjust culture. (I’m not taking responsibility for what I did not do.) I ask God to instill in each of us His idea and plan for justice. I ask Holy Spirit to bring to mind anyone I know who has suffered injustice and simply say their name to Jesus. Perhaps He will guide me to say more about that person.

Replenish, Restore, Rejuvenate the soil and Reignite the soul of America

Copyright 2020 D. Dean Benton–writer & wonderer

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/

Good Soil=30, 60, 100 Return-1

“Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold (Mark 4:8).

A waitress in Louisiana asked me where I was from—she could tell I was “not from around here”—I told her, Iowa. I thought she was going to cry as she said, “It has the blackest dirt. When I saw it, I thought it had been burned.”

I learned this weekend that there is a difference between dirt and soil. Dirt is what we sweep up from the corners of the garage or vacuum in the living room. Soil is alive! Under our feet in the field is an unseen community of interacting creatures like earthworms, and inanimate commodities like water and air. The healthier the soil, the better the quality of production whether flowers, radishes, grass or cows.

Joel Salatin is a farmer in Virginia who grows soil, moves his cattle herd every day and uses chickens and pigs to work a huge compost pit and nourish and preserve pastures. He grows soil! Growing soil grabbed my attention and imagination. After watching and contemplating the Montana Music Ranch based interview (Joel Salatin & Rory Feek), I was gripped by two phrases:

Good Soil & Immune System

We are stewards of both and benefit by paying attention to both.

RESOURCES:

The first link is for the interview. The second is a Washington Post article about Joel Salatin.  Mr. Salatin is featured in the Food. Inc movie/documentary.

Joel Salatin—Rory Feek  interview       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfB2bC1zkc8

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/voraciously/wp/2020/03/26/famous-farmer-and-activist-joel-salatin-gets-blowback-for-declaring-i-want-coronavirus/

Food, Inc. Documentary–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXIkrYbqRO0

© 2020 D. Dean Benton    writer & wonderer

See the blog that follows: Good Soil = 30, 60, 100 Increase-2.

Message Fires Cannot Destroy

To celebrate Independence Day—the 4th of July, I have been reading 1776 by David McCullough again. That there was victory in the War of Independence is a God-thing. I’m also reading Andrew Jackson and The Miracle of New Orleans by Brian Kilmeade. America faced the British army outmanned 10:1. America didn’t have a much better army 30 years after the Revolution.

A story from the attack on Washington and the burning of the White House: It was led by British general Robert Ross and Sir George Cockburn.

“When the British arrived (at the president’s house), they found Mr. & Mrs. Madison’s dinner table still set, the aroma of cooking food still wafting from the recently abandoned kitchen. They drank the president’s wine and ate a generous meal before building bonfires in the rooms and retreating to the street to watch the mansion burn. …by morning it was a roofless, smoking ruin, and the light gray stone of the president’s house had been burned black.” (Page 66)

There are still burned black timbers in the basement from that fire. I tend to think that the revolutionaries in Lafayette park a few weeks ago (not protestors—anarchists and insurrectionists) intended to replay those scenes.

“The British made a point of sacking the offices of the Washington newspaper the National Intelligencer, building a bonfire to burn its type and presses. The Intelligencer was known for printing stories critical of Cockburn, and he was determined to teach its editor and readers a lesson. ‘Be sure all the c’s are destroyed,’ he is said to have told his men, ‘so that they can’t abuse my name anymore.’”

The authors say,

“In the end, it wasn’t the brave efforts of the American people that put out the fires or stopped the destruction. Only the arrival with miraculous timing, of a powerful storm prevented more of the city from being damaged by the flames. Rain poured down and strong winds blew, lifting British cannons off the ground, according to some reports. Others claimed that the storm formed a tornado, a rare phenomenon in Washington. Whatever the cause, the British were discouraged and the fires quenched thanks not to the work of men, but to an act of God.”  (68)

              God has not gone into retirement! He is not in a gated community for the infirm.

Carole and I watched the message linked below this evening. I have known about the preacher, Dutch Sheets, for a long time, but haven’t been a follower of his ministry. He seems to live in a different dimension than I do. His theology is not foreign to me. I would probably agree with most of what he says. I have not read his books, but some of my friends know his ministry well. I hardly took a breath during this message. He told stories that grabbed my heart and moved my spirit. I have checked out some of the stories and they have a historical base. One of which is about George Washington’s “Appeal to Heaven” flag. The first link below is a printed version of that story. The 2nd link is the entire message.

I forward this message and stories for your encouragement and reminder we serve an Everlasting God.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/48051-dutch-sheets-tells-story-behind-the-appeal-to-heaven-flag

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRlWju_Bhr8

Voices in my head today

A few days ago, I became uneasy with my clever, “Hunker Inn.” We need to stop hunkering down and hiding. Today international evangelist Mario Murillo said in his blog,

Quit wasting time staring at the door that has closed. God is opening a better one. God is not done with you—or with America.

It was said of England after World War I that the nation had lost an entire generation of leaders in the war. I wonder if history will say that about Western Civilization post 2020. Are we sacrificing the potential of students on the altar of PC and the call to put on a mask, isolate oneself, stay away from school and work—just hunker down!

A lady said, “We are living with the constant threat of the next catastrophe, disaster, unemployment and revolution.”  We cannot live defensively and at the same time, live abundantly. Ivanka Trump suggested if a person(s) is laid off or unemployed they should “try something different.” That of course—along with her plugging Goya—attracted critics. She said one of my favorite clichés differently—

“If you are riding a dead horse, for your own best interest dismount!”

Fear and anxiety that drives us into the bunker is destructive.  to a nation, our mental health and willingness to fight for and live out spiritual, emotional and citizen rights. Speaking of bunkers, I’m wondering when we must view the current attacks on government, civilization and Constitutional Rights and responsibilities as the English did in the World War II bombings. We do need strong leadership—as Churchill provided.

Victor Davis Hanson said recently,

“The swing voters, independents, and purple-staters are framing their 2020 choice in the stark terms of who will “make it all go away.” They want a magical end to the virus, the quarantines, the violence, the hate, and the division. And at this point, they want near-divine interventions to do all that and more.” (https://amgreatness.com/2020/07/12/trump-needs-to-scale-the-real-wall-of-2020/)

Nothing I recall is closer to the biblical portrait of the days before Anti-Christ appears. Someone who will make it all go away—near-divine interventions. No one is going to rescue us from COVID-19 or insurrection, revolution or personal craziness. “Take care of yourself,” has become my urgent benediction. “May the Lord bless you and keep you,” and don’t neglect to exercise, eat carefully, take time to think, breathe, relax and sit in your favorite place talking to Jesus.

My concern is that we are being lulled into passivity or surrender and compliance. Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians:

“I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about Him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, and about the Messiah” (Philippians 1:14-15).

David and Karen Mains hosted radio’s Chapel of the Air. The Chapel went on the air in 1939 with David’s uncle John D. Jess as teacher and host until the middle-late 70s. In the early 1980s. David interviewed Dr. Francis Schaeffer. I don’t know of any thinking and searching evangelical who was not impacted by the thinkers Francis and Edith Schaeffer. That interview was rebroadcast recently. I listened to it this morning. It speaks to 2020.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/interview-with-francis-schaeffer-before-we-go-podcast-45/id1483224036?i=1000477553959 

I have heard dozens of conspiracy theories and as many prophecies. I don’t know which ones are fabrications, which are from God and how we are to fit into His plans. I do know this is not the time to hunker down or hunker in.  I do know the commission is still, “Go, disciple nations.” That may mean “go out of your hunkering place and get on with the discipling.”

Praying and seeking to live America’s Vision, Mission, Brand.

Copyright 2020 D. Dean Benton

Check the original

England outlawed slavery and then the USA outlawed it three years later. You know the story about England’s battle. We have just forgotten and failed to link the battle over slavery led by abolitionist leader William Wilberforce.

You also know the role converted slave trader John Newton played in those days and how we are touched by his biographical song—Amazing Grace. We’ve been assaulted by the 2020 assertion that slavery was “birthed” by USA. The revisionism of the New York Times’ 1619 Project alerts me to check the facts, agenda and who wins if falsity is embraced. Have they not read about slaves in the Old Testament? Or the slavery before Abraham was born in Mesopotamia? Or Rome’s use of slaves? Slavery was not invented by Americans! I read that 7-8% of Americans had slaves. Dear God! That is too many! But it is not the entire nation. Someone posted that there are no white people in the Bible. I was taken back, but it didn’t feel right. White people are of the Caucasian race. That changes the statement completely. There may not be any “Whites” in the Bible but there are Caucasians.  Untruth does not help accurate knowledge upon which we build our reasoning.

William Wilberforce saw and heard how reality was hurting people. He said,

“God has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the reformation of manners.”

From his death bed, John Wesley wrote his last letter to William Wilberforce to encourage him as he fought in Parliament to abolish slavery in England. In this letter, Wesley confirms the urgency of divine certainty:

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you?  Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might…”

On July 26, 1833, the emancipation bill passed the House of Commons. His work completed, Wilberforce died three days later.

Shifting from London to Washington, D.C.: President John Kennedy was hosting a dinner for Nobel Prize winners. He greeted the guests with,

“I want to tell you how welcome you are to the White House. I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Jackson…Trump are all charged as racists. The Founding Documents have been slandered and dismissed in the minds of the leftists because of those who wrote and signed it. Those who see nothing worth saving in USA and desire remaking the nation in their own image contend our national leaders (1776 to 2020) were/are all deplorable people with absolutely no redeeming value. That has not made sense to me. And it contradicts what we know as history. Is “history” a statement of fact? Some biographies of presidents have been written by their friends who slanted stories.  Dale Carnegie wrote a bio of Lincoln and polished all the brass.

We ate Easter dinner as last minute guests of an Ohio family. Uncle Ivan was present much to the embarrassment of the hostess. Uncle Ivan was a newspaper man. I had been reading about one of Ohio’s favorite sons who became president. I asked Mr. Ivan if he had an opinion about the former president. Of course he did! “He was a fraud and not one who followed him have been worth a damn!”

Uncle Ivan and cohorts are not going to provide an unbiased view.

Don Lemon said, on CNN…

“Here’s the thing,” Mr. Lemon said to Americans upset over criticism of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and other historical giants, “Jesus Christ, if that is who you believe in, Jesus Christ, admittedly was not perfect when He was here on this earth. So why are we deifying the founders of this country, many of whom owned slaves?”

I am not the first one to say that we are not trying to deify national leaders. We don’t bend a knee to them, nor do we pray to them. Because Jesus is Lord, I honor the Founding Fathers and respect them for what they accomplished on America’s behalf and I ask God’s forgiveness on their behalf.

Those men were people of their times, for sure. They were also people of virtue and integrity. Something is missing from the narrative when they are dismissed. Glen Beck presents another point of view from Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence. I have heard parts of this before, but I haven’t paid much attention. Now it is important that we do. Here is Glen Beck.

https://www.glennbeck.com/original-draft-of-the-declaration-of-independence?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

If you don’t trust Beck, check out the draft on the Internet. If you know of deceit or flaw in the reporting of the original draft or the reasoning, I would be pleased to know about it.

It feels to me, that we are being told to burn a bit of incense to Caesar.

Vision—Mission—Brand   When do we ratify it?

AdmittedlyJesus is Lord!

©2020 D. Dean Benton

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

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