Monthly Archives: February 2015

Movin’ On In

Swinging in the sub-zero wind outside our living room window is a little white bird house with a copper colored roof. The winter sun comes in that window. I can catch warm rays when sitting there. That bird house is a sad reminder. Last spring a pair of birds worked for weeks getting that house ready. The song of the male bird brightened the neighborhood. Every time he would carry a stick or log into the house, he would sit on a branch to announce his accomplishment. I watched him struggle to get some of those branches through the narrow doorway. Then the birds disappeared.

I cautiously and reluctantly cleared the bird house at the beginning of winter. I wondered if I would find unhatched eggs or empty eggs, perhaps carcasses of chicks that didn’t make it. All I found were twigs, branches and usual items birds use to set up housekeeping.

The birds got their home ready, but never moved in.

I enjoy the warm sun rays coming in that large window, but the sadness of that bird house is large and troubling.

For several weeks, I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ message about the Kingdom. It was His primary message. All of his stories were to explain and invite us to the Kingdom.

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” Matthew 6:33.

It is possible to have a relationship with Jesus and not fully “move” into the Kingdom.

©2015 D. Dean Benton – http://bentonministries.com

Two new ebooks pending. Caught In The Tail Lights—dealing with parental divorce and Turn Back The Tirade—anger healing and management.

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Presidents and Toggle Switches

Happy Presidents’ Day.

I have been slowly reading The President’s Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. (2012 Simon & Schuster.) I am enjoying it! I read a chapter and then not pick it up for a couple of weeks. I came to this holiday celebrating presidents and the bookmark is at “Watergate.” Not what I wanted, but it is fascinating—as well as disgusting and a dictionary of negative words.

Bugging and recording systems have been part of the presidency. Gibbs and Duffy say on page 286: “It was so unfair; Nixon continued to be obsessed with how much less wiretapping and bugging he had done than his predecessors.”

Kennedy and Johnson had installed an extensive bugging system in the White House. When Johnson showed Nixon the apparatus, Nixon resolved to have it removed. And he did. However, there were practical, political and historical reasons to record every word. So, months later, Nixon had a state of the art taping equipment installed.

“Because he was convinced left-leaning historians would try to deny him his place in history; because he wanted to write memoirs better than Churchill’s; and because he was sure he would have the same total control of his tapes that Kennedy and Johnson had of theirs….”  William Safire

The differences in Kennedy’s and Johnson’s recording devices and Nixon’s was while their machines were manually turned on, Nixon’s was automatic, voice-activated.

“For want of a toggle switch the presidency was lost.” (White House staffer.)

Let’s park that for a minute. Myles Munroe differentiates a president from a king and why we are invited into a Kingdom. Not a trifle!

“Seeing life from (a kingdom) perspective will require a major change of mind-set for most people. We have to learn, we have to train; we have to be taught how to think this way. A change of mind is what the Bible calls ‘repentance.’ ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near’ (Matt 4:17). He is saying, ‘Change your mind! Stop thinking like the world…and start thinking like a Kingdom citizen!” (Kingdom Principles, Destiny Image ©2006)

I’m obsessing about the X factor that enables a person to move toward success, accomplishment, personal satisfaction and…you finish the list. Getting “saved” is not the total answer. Some serious followers of Jesus live unfulfilled. Using the Old Testament model, many of us have left Egypt, but Egypt still dominates us. Repentance is the answer—not just being sorry for our behavior, choices and primary focus and changing our allegiance from self and sin to Jesus, but changing the way we think. What are our default thoughts? What is the thought pattern that determines decisions? Emotions?

  • Where did you learn to think? I’m talking about mechanics.
  • Where are you learning to think as a Kingdom citizen?
  • What is the Kingdom mindset? Worldview?
  • How do we change our minds? What is the path of a paradigm shift!

“Unless you repent, you cannot see the kingdom…” (John 3:3 KJV)

I’m not interested only in entering the Kingdom in a salvation experience, I want to “see” it and let it enter me—the way I think, therefore, the way I live. That ability to think moves me away from Brené Brown’s description of “scarcity” thinking and in a different dimension Munroe’s concept of scarcity and abundance. It moves us out of bondage and limitations. Kingdom thinking enables us to focus on “seeing” Kingdom possibilities and discovering solutions and strategies.

Where do we buy a toggle switch that will turn off the thinking that leads to despair and giving up? The ability to throw the switch is learned by observation—we’ve seen someone do it. Then having in place something positive to think about. It is never adequate to say, “Don’t think that!”

The Spirit-filled life is the big-picture answer I’m looking for. That life includes the choice and ability to throw the switch and think differently. What to think about: Principles of Sermon on Mount, Fruit of Spirit which lead us to action.

I‘m going to re-read The Secret Kingdom, Think and Grow Rich, As A Man Thinketh and Daring Greatly.

Thank God for Spiritual Toggle Switches and the willingness to learn how to throw them.

“John Erlichman referred to Nixon as the Mad Monk. He’d slip away to his private office in the Old Executive Office Building to brood for hours. “No one,” Republican chairman Len Hall once remarked, “would look forward to spending a week with Nixon fishing.” (p 265)

©2015 D. Dean Benton—http://www.bentonministries.com

Appearance of Cardinals

Can you think of anything more brilliant against the foggy, snowy day than a male Cardinal? Well, maybe a blue bird!

Joseph Campbell studied the fables, myths, stories, legends that we heard as kids. He says there is a “hero cycle.” The hero hears a call to set something right, establish justice, rescue the maiden. The call is followed by commitment—(Cue the music to Mighty Dog). After beginning the crusade, the hero is always confronted by “threshold guardians,” according to Campbell. These are events, powers, entities that resist the hero continuing the quest. Some signal that we have made a mistake, don’t have what it takes or are two steps out of our minds.

I have several “rules and reminders.” One 2-part reminder is: No one feels good about himself when he has a head cold. I don’t often say the second part in public—make no major decisions when there is more green in your mucous than your billfold.

We have known the presence of “threshold  guardians” who oppose and fight us when we push into new territory. The fog, unmarked road edge, limited horizon. What has not been clear is how to differentiate the threshold guardians from wisdom. There is no apparent formula to know the barriers that are saying, “Not now, not this, times have changed, your product is inadequate, you do not have necessary skills.” All barriers are not God’s voice saying “NO!” But some are.

Send in the cardinals! The brilliant cardinals are usually encouragers. Not the cheerleaders who really want you to win, but have only the experience of the sideline. They are encouragers who question, drawn game plans and suggest options from their experience of the arena.

We need cheerleaders who will say, “I don’t know what you are facing, but I know you. You’ll figure it out.” We need tribe members who know exactly what we’re going through—they’re wearing the T-shirt. They can say, “I’m not you, but you might want to think about this, consider that.”  You are rich if you have one person who can say, “I have heard from the Lord. If I heard correctly, you are to….”

Thank God for the brilliant cardinals for the journey.

©2015 D. Dean Benton

Pass, Punt or Run?

On Sunday, one of my favorite preachers talked about the wisdom of listening. His point: it is tricky to make good decisions in emotional moments. Wise people pause and seek counsel before deciding or doing something. That message hung around me most of the day. In an emotional situation, call a time out to get several opinions. Solomon, the wisest man ever, wrote several Proverbs about that.

I am not a Super Bowl fan. I watched it last night. The rest of the evening and the Monday morning news was all about the wrong call—the decision to pass was the wrong choice. It is discerned to be wrong because the pass was intercepted. Had the receiver caught the ball and stepped into the end zone, would the decision to pass have been the right decision? Was it wrong because it didn’t work out? Pragmatic thinking is based on whether things work out right.

The highly paid decision makers huddled and decided to pass. What were they thinking?!! They had a running back the size of a locomotive they could have handed the ball! Let him blast his way through the defense—an assembly of flesh the size of the Great Wall.

It sure didn’t make sense to me—until someone asked one of the sideline decision makers the reason for their decision. There were logical reasons based on non-emotional facts. They were looking beyond the immediate play to time left, downs left. How can you ever factor in a magic moment? There are no Xs or Os for a miraculous interception any more than for an acrobatic catch after the football bounced off the receiver like a pin ball several plays earlier.

A friend of mine asked for a guarantee today before making a decision. She was asking for impossibility. Any time there are other people involved, possibilities of guarantees are gone.

The only way that works is if you announce, “We’ve decided to pass. You have to stand still and make no decisions on your side of the field.” I like viables and options only if I get to make all the rules.

I asked a wealthy relative how he decided when and how and what to invest in. Surely he had some kind of formula. He looked at me like I was speaking in tongues. Perhaps he heard the emotional question: How do I make decisions with almost no risk and a ton of guarantees?

Had Seattle asked several more opinions, no one would have believed the guy who said, “There is a small guy who will push our receiver out of the way and catch the ball.”

Yea, right. What are the chances of that?

Get all the advice and opinions available, weigh it carefully—ask for a second time-out and then go with what you consider the best option.

Dare we talk about revelation, word of knowledge, prophetic word, Holy Spirit nudging?

Even without guarantees, learning how to make decisions is among the top 2-3 most important things to learn. I’ve decided to send this without a second opinion. We’ll see how that works out.

©2015 D. Dean Benton   http://www.bentonministries.com/   Other resources on my Facebook page.