Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Father’s Voice

Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, was on his way to meet his father whom he had not seen for 30 years. He could remember only small things from his earliest years. He would be meeting a virtual stranger.

 “…I let (his call) go to voice mail and when he was done, I listened to the message on speakerphone. He had a deep voice, deeper than I remember but oddly familiar. I imagine it will be like that when we finally hear God’s voice, it will be deep and familiar….”  (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years—page 148—Kindle)

 I pray as you listen for the Father’s Voice in the Lord’s House on Sunday, it will sound familiar.

 D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House

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Interrupted won’t fit in my planner

I have been selected among 250 bloggers world-wide to read and blog about Jen Hatmaker’s updated book, Interrupted. (Wait—be impressed!) I do have the download and a hardcopy book because I was among the first to do a Horshack—“Oh! Oh! Me! Me!”

So, I’m committed. A few of the books on my current reading stack:

  • Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos by Lynette Lewis
  • One Big Thing by Phil Cooke
  • Purple Cow by Seth Godin
  • The Brand Called You by Peter Montoya

The scope of these books is captured by the sub-title of Purple Cow: “Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.”

Today I’m confronted by “Interrupted.” My immediate reaction is “Oh crap! In the middle of figuring out how to be remarkable and how to be heard in a world of noise and getting “out there,” I’m going to hear Jen and Jesus telling me how to cut back, give away my favorite shirts and diminish myself? The subtitle to her book is enough to make me want to ship the book back: “When Jesus wrecks your comfortable Christianity.”

Am I going to be challenged to write across our new website, “NEVER MIND!”?

My second reaction is that I am willing to be interrupted only if God wants to hand me the winning lottery ticket number. That will work in my calendar. I’m thinking $63 million. After taxes. I need some stability and security. Walking around money would be helpful. “Interrupted” just doesn’t fit into my current plans.

Hatmakers will be on HGTV beginning August 7 to show us how they remodeled a farmhouse into a home, ministry center and office. I have my sights on an empty downtown building that could be on HGTV. I’m figuring the lottery ticket will be just about enough to rehab it.

I don’t have time or energy or willingness to be Interrupted. “Wrecking my comfort…?” Jesus, couldn’t we just interrupt something else?

Don’t tell NavPress I said this. I don’t want to be Interrupted and have to pay for the book too.

I’ll keep you posted.

D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House

http://bentonquesthouse.weebly.com/

Pass the Frappe

My daughter and granddaughter just went to get a frappe “for courage to go on.” Courage to go on is necessary at several levels and I don’t remember ever being instructed how to get or maintain that courage.

      I have just finished “traveling” with Theodore Roosevelt and his expedition down the “River of Doubt.” (©2005 Candace Miller, Broadway Books.) When Roosevelt, having lost one-third of his body weight on that trip, told audiences about the expedition mapping the river—a tributary of the Amazon in the middle of the Amazon rain forest—people did not believe him. He was so weak from the ordeal it is estimated only 30 of the 1500 people present at his first public speech could hear his voice. His detractors could not believe anyone could survive what he described. Some didn’t.

     The former president always carried a narcotic in his baggage on every trip in the event his life impeded the welfare of others. During the latter half of the treacherous trip, TR sliced open his good leg while rescuing a boat from a rapids. The wound became infected in an atmosphere where bacteria lived best. His doctor and companions did not think he would live. Rather than jeopardize his companions, he asked for the vial of poison.

     Kermit Roosevelt, TR’s second son, was also on the expedition. It was Kermit who walked with the guide as front men. It was his courage that even the natives admired. It was Kermit who not only refused to obey his father’s request, but was the source of courage to “go on.”

I have been fascinated by the Teddy Roosevelt story and wonder why given all his physical problems he steeled himself and forced his body to obey his will, while his brother Elliott (Eleanor’s father) had everything going for him ended in an institution overtaken by alcohol and a thrown away life. Why one and not the other? Elliott became the family image not to be emulated. But Kermit did just that.

     As TR had admitted his brother to a sanatorium fifty years earlier, Kermit’s brother committed him to an institution. Some lines from Candice Millard’s book:

“Like everything else in Kermit’s life, even the great love that had sustained him through his darkest days on the River of Doubt did not so much as shatter as crumble, slowly eroding through years of neglect and betrayal.”

“…Kermit’s dreamy, aimless approach to life….”

“…Kermit’s open infidelity.”

“…his body was so broken and ill-used….”

“Kermit, haunted by all that he could have been and all that he had become….”

“Nearly thirty years after he had used his extraordinary physical and mental strength to prevent his father from taking his own life on the banks of the River of Doubt, Kermit, sick, tired, sad and alone, was too weak to save himself from the same fate.”

     I have grieved Elliott and now I grieve Kermit. Why one brother and not the other? It is difficult to “watch” Kermit deal with the savagery and constant assault while in the jungle and then to “see” him so out of control in a less hostile environment. Why could he not stand up to his weaknesses as his father had stood against his? Why an “aimless approach to life” when…?

The courage to go on.

Resiliency.

Ability to respond to innate weakness and failure as a catalyst.

     Perhaps what we need most is an en-courager—an instiller of courage and one who can and will teach us how to en-courage ourselves.

     Debi! Hannah! Pass the frappe.

D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House

http://bentonquesthouse.weebly.com

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Your Bean Field

This statement grabbed me like a bear going after a salmon.

“David now realized why the Lord had made him king and why he made his kingdom so great; it was for a special reason—to give joy to God’s people!” (1 Chronicles 14:2 TLB).

To give joy to God’s people is quite an assignment.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about birds moving into a little house outside our living room window. Our extended family marveled at those little birds carrying sticks twice their size and twirling them like batons to get them through the house entrance. After getting the stick placed, the bird would step out onto the branch and sing a full-throated song. The melody was a variation of “Movin’ On Up.”

Then the birds disappeared. For a week we watched the little house and asked each other about sightings. We talked about the possibilities: Maybe they face planted on a windshield or were ambushed by a cat. I suggested the hummingbird feeder just a few inches from the bird house front door was a threat. We even wondered if they decided they didn’t like the neighborhood, or us watching their every move. The song is so lush, we grieved the loss.

They’re back! Yesterday, at least one of the birds was back at work carrying lumber into the house. Where have they been? Is this just their summer cottage—a beach house overlooking Carole’s small, mobile vegetable garden? 

I really like that song.

“Building the I’m Possible! Life” includes understanding what your skill set and style is. Your “brand” is what images and thoughts come to people when they think of you. Read that episode again. David has a revelation. “Aha! I get it! I know what I’m here for! I am wearing this crown to bring joy to God’s people.

What skill sets do those birds need?

On my planner for today is a note to blog about David’s Men of Valor. Tomorrow I planned to talk to you about a field of lentils and one Man of Valor who grew tired of the Philistines stealing the harvested legumes from that field year after year. So, he planted himself in the middle of the field and fought off the marauders. Yesterday, the preacher preached on that story. (2 Samuel 23:11) My tribe is still talking about that field of bean sermon. Rattled me because how often does that happen and, apart from the crowd, what is God trying to tell me?

To understand what skill set you need, you have to know in which bean field you are to plant yourself.

I’ve been re-reading One Big Thing by Phil Cooke. The sub-title is “Discovering What You Were Born To Do.” (©2012 Thomas Nelson.) It is the most helpful and practical resource on purpose, calling, assignment I’ve worked through recently—therefore helpful as to what skill-set we need to develop.

I would like to do a mini-mester about that bean field here at the cyber Quest House. We would read a chapter and interact about the subject. Interested in participating?

D. Dean Benton

http://bentonquesthouse.weebly.com

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Personal Jungle Adventure

Our youngest granddaughter (15) is in Nashville with 5000 other teens for a youth convention. After four days and nights in that spiritual hyper-atmosphere, they will go to the Atlanta inner city for ministry. They will stay in an Atlanta motel with armed guards. 

I’m praying for Hannah and the five van loads of kids that went with her. I am feeling a mix of fear and jealousy. She is experiencing something she will never be able to quite describe. When was the last time I have been on that kind of frontier? She told me she would debrief us on the experience.

I’ve been traveling with Theodore Roosevelt and his expedition down a tributary of the Amazon River through the Amazon rain forest. Candice Millard, the author of The River of Doubt describes some of the journey.

“…(The) Amazonian jungle, which had never seemed welcoming, had begun to feel not just dark and dangerous, but inescapably oppressive. It was a sensation that most outsiders who plunged into that dense, inscrutable wilderness experienced, and it left behind an indelible almost violent impression.”

The Polish explore Arkady Fielder wrote that after he and his companions had spent months in the Amazon rain forest, “something began to go wrong in us.” The forest was stifling. Roosevelt’s companions spoke of “relentless monotony.”

The camaradas (native workers and guides) were “deeply affected by the forest’s stifling monotony, the river’s myriad dangers, and their own dark fears, and the American officers charted the emotional decline with growing alarm.” (p 310)

The expedition could see brilliant colors, but could not make out animals or humans who watched their every move. The explorers knew they were prey and at any moment, they could fall into the hands of predators—nothing personal, they were just in a place where Darwin’s Theory was not questioned and the food chain operated efficiently.

I’m desiring neither emotional overload or monotony. Adrenaline on one hand, monotony on the other. Boredom is as great a stressor as poison spears. It is the satisfaction with the mundane and sameness that is the threat. It hangs heavy from every branch until it invades the soul and turns it dark.

I updated the Gone to Southwood manuscript yesterday after Carole’s sister edited it. I wrote the original story twelve years ago. It will go to the publisher next week. There are scenes in that story that always create excitement and emotional response in me. The Saturday that Della and Charlie visit Southwood to tell their stories and sing harmony with Brent. The prophecy concerning the Depot and the treks up the thirty-two wooden stairs up into the widow’s watch—they touch me each time I read those stories.

It is the vision, the empowerment by God and how God does His work that drives away the monotony or boredom. I want you to participate in the Southwood Experience. I have prayed that you will experience Kingdom life in your own “rain forest” and River of Doubt expedition.

D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House

http://bentonquesthouse.weebly.com

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You’re Worth It!

My Facebook page asked me to complete my profile by asking the name of my employer. When I wrote “Benton Ministries,” the Facebook cop replied that it was the wrong answer! How disturbing is that?

I’ve been re-reading One Big Thing by Phil Cooke—Discovering What You Were Born to Do, (Thomas Nelson 2012). I recommend this no matter what your age. Amazon has some great prices on this book, new or used. Cooke is a high profile Hollywood producer who happens to be a serious Jesus Follower.
He references Jim Collin’s classic Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. Collins’ analogy is that a good organization is like a bus.
“The CEO is the bus driver and provides the vision for where the bus needs to go. But he also has to get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and then get the right people into the right seats.
“The heart of the One Big Thing concept is finding the right seat on the bus.” (p 78—One Big Thing)
Author and Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck (Road Less Traveled) said,

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time.
Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”

You belong on the bus! Until you value yourself, there will always be a question in your mind.
Today’s Bible reading features Jabez.
“He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would wonderfully bless me and help me in my work; please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all evil and disaster!’ And God granted his request” (1 Chronicles 4:10).
A person who prays that kind of prayer values himself, his work and his walk with God. His mother didn’t do him any favors. She did not have an easy birth with Jabez so she named him Jabez which means, Distress. Every time she called him for supper he was reminded that he was distressful to his mother. That will put a person into therapy! My immediate inclination is to suggest he must have had someone who valued him. A father, brother, teacher, basketball coach, the guy who washed the camels—someone. But no one is mentioned.
To value yourself is to think, “You’re worth it!” That does not mean self-indulgence—“Go ahead, have that third cupcake. You’re worth it.” It means to invest in yourself with learning and growth opportunities. Invest in someone and experience the bounce back effect.
How will you invest in yourself today? How will you value someone else?
D. Dean Benton
Benton Quest House
http://bentonquesthouse.weebly.com
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Branch Office

Our son was with us for a couple of days and I benefited big time. He brings value to me with his vocational expertise, his knowledge of the Bible, his shared personal journey and coaching questions. He is a charter member of our personal tribe.

We are upgrading a couple areas of ministries. He served as a coach asking questions that made me clarify my thinking. Synergy happened. His ideas and mine collaborated and produced new thinking that would not have happened without his input. Perhaps these ideas will produce products that will enrich the wider population.
GIFTS
Whether I talk about natural talents or Spiritual gifts, unused gifts do not just atrophy, they abscess. I like that phrase, but it has serious consequences. If we love to do something, feel called to do certain things, love to see the results of our gifted work, but do not use those gifts, the vacuum will birth depression, anxiety and boredom.

Blended singing voices are food for my soul. The blending of specific voices produce a sound that enriches me and I get lonesome for that sound entity as if it were a person. A singer I admire, but do not personally know appears to be in distress. I committed to pray for him. I can’t sing with him, but I am feeling some responsibility for the survival of his gift use. I’m finally not responsible for his gift any more than he is for mine, but since I sense I am to pray with him during this season, I have a measure of responsibility. All faithful churches, groups and tribes have responsibility and joy to call forth, nurture and sustain gifts.
Unused gifts are not just something we can sell from the bargain box on eBay. God gave us gifts for a reason and we will give an accounting to Him for them. Undiscovered, undeveloped, unused gifts are especially grievous to God, if Jesus’ parables are accurate.

“I would really like to…” is often a description of a God planted dream about your life purpose. I plead with you to take seriously the gift(s) and talents. Don’t cheat me or others out of what will help us fulfill our callings. Fulfill our lives!
CALLING
“For God’s sake…and yours, take your calling seriously!” I want to yell that at those whose gifts and talents are allowed to be dormant.
Carole’s sister bought her a bird house. It is cute and small. The floor plan is four by six inches. We hung it in the tree outside the living room window. I thought it was too late in the season, but a young couple moved in almost immediately. (Lots of talk in recent months about high rent and few rental properties in our city.) They built a nest. Every time one of them carried a stick in and placed it, he or she stepped out onto the branch and announced to the neighborhood they were home and furnishing the place. Of our resident and visiting birds, those two birds—about twice the size of humming birds—have the largest voices. They are taking seriously the command to multiply and to sing.
In contrast, our granddaughter and her dad have acquired a homing pigeon. It landed and stayed. Apparently, Hannah says, it got lost on its way home.
Take your calling seriously and the value you add to your world. I wonder if you appreciate the value you add. Perhaps you need a branch to stand on.

D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House

She May Have Gotten It Right–at least part of it.

“A good movie has memorable scenes, and so does good life.”

Donald Miller A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

If your devotional Bible reading is in The One Year Bible (Tyndale), you are slogging through a repetitive story of viciousness with some nasty family squabbles. Thanksgiving Dinner at the Palace was a good place to get killed. You and the whole family! It wasn’t until we started studying Jezebel—the Queen and the spirit—that I fully understood why God was adamant about the Israelites staying away from their neighboring nations and especially their gods.

There are two verses that—did you know there are more than 2500 species of mosquitos? These verses have been like pesky mosquitos buzzing around my soul.

“All his life Joash did what was right because Jehoiada the High Priest instructed him” (2 Kings 12:2).

“So the Lord raised up leaders among the Israelis to rescue them from the tyranny of the of the Syrians; and then Israel live in safety again” (2 Kings13:5).

Joash is unique among the Kings and leaders because of a godly coach/mentor. At our Tribe meeting last evening, I wondered out loud how we should treat the crazy politics in USA 2014 and how we should pray for the illegals swarming into this country. 

The hundreds of thousands of refugees on our southern borders are like another swarm of mosquitos around my soul. I’m about to risk my voter’s registration card spontaneously igniting by quoting Nancy Pelosi. She sees all those refugees, and they are illegals, as an “Opportunity.” In spite of her eloquence, it is a growing crisis. Opportunity and crisis go together. I think the words have common roots.  This crisis has its roots in leadership default.

Opportunity presents itself when someone with access is gripped by and then responds to a vision.

David Wilkerson’s son has written about his father in a new book David Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade and the Man Who Believed.

It was the mid 1950’s when Wilkerson, a small town Pennsylvania preacher, felt an inescapable burden for the gangs of New York City. He had no access to them, but went to the mean streets, slept in his car and followed what he understood to be God’s guidance. His obedience gave him access. God opened doors. He preached the Good News to the gangs. A book was written, a movie was made and the story continues.

Opportunity–Vision–Access.

Some of our tribe will be going to Haiti in 2015. Some of our friends just returned from a work camp in Colorado. I’m wondering when the “southern border opportunity” will become the work camp or mission trip of choice.

I am praying that God will raise up a cadre of leaders who will see the “opportunity.” I am praying that God will produce a generation of “priests” who will coach, teach, mentor and train. Given the atmosphere in Israel, I’m wondering who spoke into Jehoiada?

Here we are on the eve of another holiday. I’m reading two books about historical leaders and shake at their expeditions and the challenges they met. I’m also thinking about the “memorable scenes” that my family will recall as we say, “Remember the time when…?” I also am aware that I could never take on the challenges Theodore Roosevelt welcomed even if I ate those White House pie crusts every day. But I can respond in faith and obedience to opportunity, vision where I do have access.

What are the opportunities you see into which you have access?  Vision and access. Vision and access. Vision and access. One more swarm of mosquitos around my soul. Vision and access.  

D. Dean Benton

Benton Quest House