Monthly Archives: April 2014

Struck Me Funny

Three things I’ve heard so far today that makes we chuckle—sardonically.

 George G. Hunter III former Dean at Asbury Theological Seminary and writer of over a dozen books (who has influenced me) says,

“With the breakdown of village life and group identify and the rise of individualism, a pathology has spread that no one predicted. Vast numbers of people are self-preoccupied, self-absorbed, and narcissistic. The American Psychiatric Association has considered the removal of ‘narcissism’ from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is book on personality disorders—not because it is not a disorder, but because it is now so widespread.” 1

Let me see if I understand. What has traditionally been a mental illness has become so prevalent and mainstream that it may now be considered normal?

  1. Barbara Brown Taylor is featured as the cover story of Time Magazine,2. In 1996, a Baylor University survey named her as one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world. She was serving an 85-seat chapel in Georgia. When the church was required to go to 4 services to accommodate the crowds, Grace-Calvary Church suggested she take her popularity elsewhere. Time Magazine says,

“When nearby Piedmont College asked her to lead its newly formed religion department in 1997, she took the job. Today Grace-Calvary (where she had been preaching) does not even mention her in an online video of its 176-history.”

3. One of my academic friends has been reading one of my books. She says, “I don’t think I have ever received direct instruction in what a healthy person does (except from you).”

I love her and think she has good literary taste. But if I’m her only guide to a “healthy” person, she may need to widen her sphere of incoming influence.

 D. Dean Benton, author of

On My Family Watch

https://smashwords.com/

A free sample of the book is available It is listed under Non-fiction, Family and Relationships.

My book on forgiveness—Nailing Tapioca to the Ceiling—is available at one of my blog addresses: http://southwood.wordpress.com/

Notes from blog

        1. Should We Change Our Game Plan? George G. Hunter III, Abingdon Press, 2013

          2. April 28, 2014 edition.

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Resurrection Party

We didn’t go to church this morning. We went to a resurrection party! The preacher read a few verses from John and took his place on the front row. The worship team got the cue. During the first song, they were singing words faster than I have ever heard. They didn’t clap on the 2nd & 4th beats. They clapped on every beat and sang words in places I cannot describe. I can’t imagine what that looks like on paper—if possible to score. Into the fourth song, I thought to myself—if they are at this level before they talk about crucifixion, this place is going to come apart at the resurrection announcement.

Then the worship team/choir sang, The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power. And they sang “Never!” on the third beat—I think. NEVER!! After the song, there was a split second of silence and a lady one row in front of us just to the left, began to say “NEVER!” I knew this was not programmed. And she didn’t stop. Never! Never! Never! I began to discern she was fighting for something or someone and declaring to her oppressor or the whole spirit world. The blood of Jesus will never lose its power. It felt to me that a battle was won.

The worship team waited. She was quiet in about 30 seconds. Hallelujah. Never!

I think we sat in the right place this morning.

Two teenage young men in front of us. I thought they were resisting the message. They were at least skeptical. They were not rude or rowdy. Arms folded. The pastor preached and gave an altar call. Those two teens—about 15-17 years old—went forward to make some commitment to Jesus. We watched as a large man put his hands on the back of their heads and pulled them to himself and prayed for them. As they cried. Cried!

Then the kid in front of me—maybe 8—pushed past the lady he was with and went forward. The boy was as dressed up as much as  the two teens were not. The lady hugged him and kissed him on top of the head when he returned to his seat. I could feel resurrection power.

Resurrection Sunday. Party time!

 We haven’t talked to the pastor for several weeks. His 21 year old son arrived home from college for Christmas break on Friday, went into the hospital and died  the following Monday. We greeted him before second service today. Carole reminded him that we have been praying for his family. Pastor said, “Yesterday would have been his birthday.”

I kept thinking all morning that Pastor has a lot riding on this day. He did not preach from the cheap seats today.

Jesus says—“Because I live, you shall live also.”

I watched an ESPN story yesterday about a lady whose life is known by the world and her hurt is still raging twenty years after her highly visible failure. Revisiting her story brought great heaviness to my soul. If, “the blood reaches to the highest mountain and reaches to the lowest valley,” will it reach into her heart? Can the resurrection power bring life to that lady? I call it forth.

 Happy Resurrection Day! Happy resurrection life.

 ©D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House

Invisible Bars

Good Friday 2014. Want to go on a field trip? Let’s go to God’s throne room—the place where God and Jesus hang out. I’m assuming the Holy Spirit is currently at your house—His day job.

The Two look out Heaven’s window at Good Friday services and the Easter weekend events that try to portray the Crucifixion and duplicate the sound of Jesus’ voice as He speaks to the grieving disciples.

It has been approximately 2000 years since that Passover weekend. No human words can explain or express the horror of what happened on the Cross. (Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly tries.)

“Any regrets? Second thoughts?” God the Father asks the Son.

Luke says as he starts the story of the Church—The Acts of the Apostles—what the Apostles did after Jesus went to Heaven, “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all Jesus began to do and teach…” (Acts 1:1).

With their Google map, they focus on my house. Any regrets? Second thoughts? About the cost of the Cross?—Return on Investment? I do not believe Jesus would ever say that He has second thoughts for paying the price for your redemption or mine.

My daughter reminded me:

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

 On this Good Friday—a newspaper article about a man in his seventies who has spent most of his adult life in prison. After being released from prison, he robbed a bank with the intent of being caught so he could go back to prison. A judge granted him his wish last week.

“Boredom and loneliness led him to conclude life on the inside was preferable to life outside.” “I just want to go home,” he told the judge. He spent his days of “freedom” watching television, painting or drawing. “He was living like a hermit,” an observer said. The man in bondage said, “…it was like living in solitary confinement.”

It is after noon local time. Significant for Good Friday with Jesus on the Cross. When He said, “It is finished,” was He referring to His mission statement—

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to…proclaim liberty to the captives…to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).

Even for a man who feels more at home in prison? It feels like what Jesus began to do and teach did not reach him. My soul hurts!

Exciting ministry plans to set captives free:

 Two of my books will be published next week as ebooks.

  1.  On My Family Watch—a 9-chapter strategy for marriage and family. This content spells out what we furnish our lives with to offset generational predispositions. It also helps us determine what legacy we shall leave. We cannot give to others what we don’t have. This book is a response to my novel, “Depot at Southwood.”
  2. Mockingbirds at Dawn—A devotional interaction with Ephesians. One of the first readers suggests this is a great resource for people in recovery looking for daily readings. “Fresh song at Daybreak.” I will give you a store address when the books are online.

 My book, “Nailing Tapicoa to the Ceiling” will be published on my blog over the next two weeks. One chapter a day. The sub-title is, “Process of forgiveness.” The book will be published later, but I wanted you to have a first look. I will notify you each day with blog address.

  • Quest House Seminars—contact me if you want dates and places. We will use Depot at Southwood and On My Family Watch as primary resources. A 4-6 session begins after Easter.

© 2014 D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House

Why?

President Obama responded to the weekend violence and hate killing as “not having a place in American life.” Mr. President, are you serious?

Violence, hate and sex are at the very core of American life. Those components make up the fabric of the current American soul—if television or video games or the Internet are indicators.

Anyone watching primetime TV recognizes violence and sex as the primary entertainment. I need a barf bucket to watch the butchery of most popular programs. They have become a primer in torture, brutality and murder. I’m wondering if the popular TV program “Scandal” is a documentary. No place in American society? Seriously?

America has become 21st Century Rome.

I received Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard for Christmas. I waited until Lent to read it. Those Romans knew how to do violence and sex. I would skip Lent and Good Friday if I could. When I go with Jesus to the Garden and He says, “Father, if there is another way to do this…” I plead with God. Are you sure the Cross is the best plan?

Killing Jesus explains Jesus execution in terms I want to avoid. Why would Jesus choose that?

We set the alarm and looked at the Blood Moon. Then I couldn’t go back to sleep. I turned on the TV—music channel. I had just about fallen to sleep when a women’s group singing tight and high harmonies jarred me awake with….

“Why should He love me so? Why should He love me so?

Why would my Savior to Calvary go?

Why should He love me so?”

I know the rhetoric. I know what the Bible says. None of it gives an adequate answer. Not to go to the Cross. Not to die that kind of death. For me? If it had to happen, why didn’t He send someone else? I know the answer we’ve been reading and have been taught. Any explanation is just beyond comprehension which leaves us with—it was something He wanted to do as a gift—something we couldn’t do for ourselves. Don’t try to figure it out—receive it.

The Weatherfords was not the group that awakened me, but their sound is stuck in my head.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=lyrics+why+should+he+love+me+so&FORM=VIRE7#view=detail&mid=B49CE10ADAD1941C3396B49CE10ADAD1941C3396

 

D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House

What Is That Smell?

My wife and the female members of our tribe have gotten serious about essential biblical oils. I am a skeptic about snake oil and all things magic, but I gladly acknowledge how healing these oils have been.

All fragrances are influenced by the chemicals of the person wearing them.

The other day I was wandering through the house on my way to the coffee pot when I thought of Monfort. Monfort Trucking so dominated the Interstates of America that the left hand fast lane was called The Monfort Lane. They hauled beef from the Monfort Beef Packing Company in Greeley, Colorado. The Monfort smell emanating from that packing plant could be smelled just west of Sioux City, Iowa. Potent! And that odor was in our house.

After serious self-sniffing and questioning my wife, I determined that I was smelling one of the essential oils as it deteriorated and diffused.

A couple of days ago, I offered to take old towels and blankets to the dog pound for friends. The smell in the car and on my clothes was that of dog. Not puppy breath, but check-my-shoes kind of smell. I made some assumptions and changed clothes. The next day the odor grabbed me again. I had not washed the jacket. The scent showed up during a meeting with a bunch of preachers. I sure didn’t need them to be making any assessments about my cologne.

In the middle of this, we received a quasi-medical newsletter from “Nasal News.”

This mystery has not been solved. Carole keeps asking me, “Is this the smell?” Nope. Until a better solution surfaces, I’ve decided it works like this: Carole puts on one of her attractive essential oils, hugs me and something on my clothing or in my skin changes the basic scent. But! To a barn lot or a dog fragrance? That screws up my self-perception. Nasal News may have a new headline.

Malcom Gladwell writes about the Birmingham Civil Rights’ battle in one chapter in his book, David and Goliath. (Little, Brown and Company, 2013). Gladwell tells stories about Wyatt Walker, the third person in the King, Shuttlesworth, Walker team. Walker says,

“I think Negroes like myself have developed almost a mental catalogue of the tone of voices of how a white face speaks to them. Everything that a white person says is interpreted by the nuance of the tone of voice, or maybe the hang of the head, or the depth of tone, or the sharpness of the tongue, you know—things that in the ordinary, normal ethnic frame of reference would have no meaning, take on tremendous and deep and sharp meaning.” (page 177)

That paragraph sent me into hard self-examination. Am I sure that my “look” is received as I intend when sent? And about that odor….

This gets really heavy as I recall our daughter at age four saying to me, “Being a parent must be a terrible nuisance.” My “look” and tone had nothing to do with her. I still had on my board meeting face from the night before.

What am I communicating that contradicts what I’m saying?

Into heavy sniffing,

D Dean Benton

The Benton Quest House

How Can I Help?

Same question. God has called us to walk beside people and “pour life-resources into them.” How do we know what to pour?

In reference to another question, Andy Stanley in one of his podcasts suggests asking, “How can I help?” He is not limiting the offer to offering to carry the other end of the ladder. “Given my resources and who I am, how can I help you?”

It is another way of blessing someone. Using Dr. Henry Cloud’s definition of blessing, it is the offer of affirmation, touch, words, and the promise to provide resources that I have that will benefit you. Seldom is it advice—unless asked for.

Same issue. Many of those we walk beside will not know how to answer “How can I help?”

Here’s where I am on this. I think I’m describing being someone’s life-coach—perhaps a spiritual director. We may be offering to be part of a team.  I had a list of twelve people for whom I was praying. Some of the twelve were in life-death situations. Some were in “on the way to prison” situations. Others—“I’m in prison.” Not all were that dramatic. Most were in “I’m stuck—I don’t want this to be my life, anymore.”

First, everyone has the right to choose our own priest or coach. I learned some didn’t choose me. They didn’t have a better option, but they chose to say, “I don’t know” when I asked how I could help. It was their kind way of saying—“Go away. I’m not that into what you’re offering.” Others may have doubted I had anything of value to offer. Obviously, I think they are wrong, but it doesn’t matter what I think. Perceived credibility and value is primary.

If the person is not shopping, even discounts won’t help. Some needed more specialized help than I can offer.

One or two of those folks said, “I’ll get back to you.” They weren’t ready to be healed. They weren’t ready to step away from their addiction. But they didn’t want me to go too far in the event they decided it was time. Some folks cannot imagine living without what is an addiction in my estimation, but to them it is an absolutely needed coping mechanism. For the moment, it is their link to oxygen.

More than one physician has said to me after a seminar, “People want from me what I can’t give them. They want a pill that will fix them. They want something done to them or put into them.”

“Coming alongside,” demands a tribe, open interaction, discernment, Words of wisdom and knowledge. We pour encouragement, edification, equipping, empowering. My experience is that we can never go wrong going heavy on the encouragement. But without an open relationship “encouraging” words are thin platitudes—like pumping diesel into a gas-driven engine.

How would you answer, “How can I help?” Who could ask that who would benefit you most?

D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House

The Carafe Business

In 1984, my family had an encounter with a carafe filled with spiced tea and a lovely lady from Georgia who wanted to help us get well. It was so impacting, I wrote about it in my book Rahab’s Place, and it attempts to show up in every story I write.

The carafe lived in Debi’s hope chest for five years. When she poured my coffee from it, I asked her if it was a wedding gift, she said, “Dad, don’t you remember that night when we were all so sick and that lady told us she wanted to help us get well?” Those words released into me warmth that returns every time I see a carafe or read those words. It evokes the prophet’s words of friends who came to sit near his warming fire to help him get well.

For several years, I have felt the call of God to walk next to people and pour into their lives. Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit does?

A second story connects. Before we built the new garage, I found a hole in front of the old shed. I attempted to fill it with coffee cans of dirt and gravel. When that didn’t fill the hole, I poured in five-gallon buckets of dirt and gravel. When we built the new garage, the backhoe uncovered an old cistern which a large rodent was using as summer cottage. There on a ledge of that cistern was a pitiful pile of rocks and dirt that I thought would fill the hole.

If you’ve tried to “pour into people,” you have discovered that some folks are so empty they appear to be bottomless pits. But a far greater issue for me has been that I have not known what to “pour into” them. And where I will find the infinite supply if I ever find what it is that the person needs.

And they seldom know what they need.

In the book, Influencer, (McGraw-Hill, 2008) the researchers-writers tell about a Nobel Prize winner named Muhammad Yunus. After receiving his doctorate in economics, he returned home to Bangladesh to teach at a university. He rediscovered tens of thousands starving to death within sight of his university windows. He investigated the “acute and chronic poverty. It was not (due to the) indolence of the poor.” They worked hard but were unable to make adequate wages.

“After interviewing 42 people in one village, he was shocked to discover that the biggest barrier was not energy, but capital.” Yunus ended his research with an answer to the dilemma. One change would move people from poverty to self-supporting and to wealth in some cases. That one change would be for the people to secure and pay back a business loan.

“In total, the 42 people he interviewed needed a paltry $27 to finance their businesses.”

Thirty years later, Dr. Yunus runs a multimillion dollar banking and business conglomerate that (and I quote!) “has helped more than 100 million people…out of poverty.” (page 172)

Walking beside people means to spend enough time with them that you begin, at least, to get a hint of what needs to be poured into them. For those who rise out of the bottomless pit one trait will be seen in them: they will commit to participate in their own healing.

The first five people to whom Dr. Yunus loaned money were required to:

  • build a tribe,
  • write their own business plans and then
  • co-sign the notes of the other four.

These are the needed gifts to know what needs to be poured: Biblical community (tribe), discernment, Word of Knowledge, Word of Wisdom, venture capital.

$27. Five people.

Pour. But what? I suggest: edification, encouragement, equipping, empowering—to start.

D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House