Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Belonger

I asked a teacher what her ultimate goals were for her students. Her response was to teach them the difference between their and there and the knowledge when to use each. Facetious! I’m not a grammartarian. If it were not for my wife, her sister, Martha and Kim, my books would read like they had been written with a large crayon. (You know! That might explain….) This, like all of my blogs, is:   edit it yourself.

My first editor was Miss Marian Smith. She is many years retired. Her family was in the missionary business. She taught English and shared Jesus for years on the mission field. She served in many of the cities and countries now often in the news. She came home to become a magazine editor and office manager. (A comma belongs somewhere in that sentence.) She has been my cheerleader. She liked blue pencils. She would send my letters back with grammatical errors circled with her blue editing pencil. She was not malicious. She came to the end of one of my manuscripts and wondered what I wanted her to do with the five-gallon bucket full of extra commas.

Acknowledging my lack of expertise, I am annoyed when people don’t get Jesus right. A preacher, who I think should know better, spoke about “Jesus’s.” He wouldn’t spell it that way, but that is how he vocalizes it. How about Jesuses? No, that is plural. Isn’t it? How do you spell the possessive? I’m committed to Jesus’.

Thinking about last Lord’s Day. We listened to five hours of preaching. It was a rather barren morning. Not much touched me. Maybe I wasn’t paying close attention. However, I was and am, impacted by the possessive. I belong to Jesus. I am one of Jesus’ tribe.

A song is in my head today. I can hear a Texas singer singing…

Now I belong to Jesus

Jesus belongs to me.

Not for the years of time alone

But for eternity.

                                                               (Norman J. Clayton)

My connection is with Him who says, “He’s one of mine. He’s with me.”

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

Writer, Wonderer, Belonger

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You just never know…

A friend in a touring, singing ministry said, “Don’t know what we left behind (today) but God had something to say through me. He will have to sort it out.” I almost said to him the words I hate to hear:  “You just never know what happened.”

Those words always seem like a cop-out. We always debrief our events by asking, “Did anyone get saved? Healed? Rededicate themselves? Someone get called to ministry?” If not, I wondered why not and what we should have done differently. Those things are supposed to happen! If not one of those things, then some other life-enhancing event.

If we prepared adequately, worked at knowing the uniqueness of our audience and worked at a quality performance and prayed through all that, then I expect something to happen. But, you just never….

At the close of a concert-preaching in Vermont or Maine, maybe Connecticut, I gave an altar call. I’m not very good at calling people to the physical altar rail or bench, but I usually feel pleased about calling people to commitment with some expression of decision. No one moved. I don’t think anyone breathed. A lady, who looked to me to be a typical New Englander, told me that I had given a very serious appeal. She said “As serious as it was, I will have to give it consideration and think about it before deciding.” Of course she would! Anything less than calculation of the decision would have contradicted her life-long culture and how seriously she was taking the appeal to take the step toward Jesus. Had she not confronted me, I would have written off the evening as nice, but questionable.

You might just never know….

We got a FB note recently from a New York State lady who was in a Benton concert in 1974. She has been listening to our music for 40 years—is the math right? In a message that put me on the floor, she said “I remember your bus and how your message through song spoke to me—you will never know.” Her husband had just died. She was now a single mom trying to figure out what to do. “I played your records every nite after the children went to bed….”

Even when we get to count and are pleased with the numbers of nickels and noses, we never get to know the whole story. Wow!

That is huge motivation to pray for and find ways to encourage the preachers, teachers, singers, missionaries whose ministries you identify with and those whom God has assigned you to partner with. You just never know.

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

Never Changes His Mind

One of my junior high friends is not just in trouble today, he is feeling troubled. My book, Turn Back the Tirade is a few days from publication. I not only want him to read this ebook, I want him to “get it.” What he is feeling today is legitimate. How he is dealing with the feelings may not be.

There are Three Big Ones that cause anger and hostility:

  1. Frustration
  2. Disappointment
  3. Rejection

No wonder my young friend is upset! What happened to him triggered all three.

Dr. Brené Brown reminds us that power is the ability to effect change. The three “Big Ones” are frontal attacks on our belief that we can change anything. When we—regardless of age or social status, wealth or how sexy we are—are questioning our worth or value, are frustrated, disappointed or rejected, we are going to feel disempowered. That is debilitating and scary.

Dr. Brown says we are caught in a cultural lie that life is all supposed to be fun, fast and easy. She says the current cultural assumption that things should be fun, fast, easy, leads to…

“…the combination of fear of disappointment, entitlement, and performance pressure (which) is a recipe for hopelessness and self-doubt.” (Brown) That describes lack of power—inability to effect change.

Write this on the first page of your journal: My worth is God’s gift to me. It is my birthright. Nothing that will happen to me changes that. My self-esteem may waver—that is what I feel about myself—but my self-worth is the way God feels about me. He never changes His mind!

I would trade a couple of graduate classes for one grade school class that taught me that disappointment, frustration and rejection are part of life. Therefore, I need to learn how to effectively deal with them. Angering at other people and disliking myself doesn’t help. Why doesn’t someone say, “Here, let me show you how to do that right!”

Vicki Yohe is a singer and a missioner. She was on one of my favorite programs to sing one of my favorite songs. The host interviewed her about her mission to Uganda where she has planted an orphanage. She says we have done it wrong. While we have been feeding and clothing, we should be empowering.

Empowering is connected to hope.

Dr. Brené Brown says, “I always thought of hope as an emotion—like a warm feeling of optimism and possibility. I was wrong. …hope is not an emotion; it’s a way of thinking or a cognitive process.”

Hope happens when we learn to think, say and act out…

    • I know where I want to go, what I want to be: I have purpose, desire, goal, direction.
    • I know how to get there. I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again.
    • I can do this!

Put another way, hope and empowerment describe…

  • Tolerance for disappointment. (Of course I’m disappointed, but it will not kill me or change God’s opinion.)
  • Determination. (I’ll persist and work hard. What happens to me today makes my life temporarily more difficult, but it doesn’t change who I am—God settled that!)
  • Belief in self. (This hurts and this is tough, but I can do it. I can do it!)

Branding that on your soul is not fun, fast or easy. We are not entitled to special treatment. It is your choice to do the hard, persistent, determined work.

Dr. Brown’s words are challenging and invigorating:

“I always thought of hope as an emotion—like a warm feeling of optimism and possibility. I was wrong. …hope is not an emotion; it’s a way of thinking or a cognitive process.”

“I think it is so empowering to know that I have the ability to teach my children how to hope. It’s not a crapshoot.” The Gifts of Imperfection, (Hazelden ©2010) page 65

©2015 D. Dean Benton   http://bentonminisries.com

New ebooks from Dean. Soon to be published.

  1. Turn Back the Tirade—Anger management and personal empowerment
  2. HopePushers—with intent to deliver—What hope is, how to get it, how to maintain it, how to dispense it.
  3. Caught in the Tail Lights—Dealing with parental divorce, abandonment, rejection, purposelessness.

Need to Neighbor

No one does it anymore, and I don’t know that we ever called it by that name. People just dropping by to visit. I had a strange, strong desire yesterday to “Go Neighboring.” My Grandmother Smith had a front room with a black leather couch which was reserved for neighboring. The room and the couch were always cold. There were ferns in the room. People would stop by on Sunday afternoon to neighbor. I suspect there were refreshments, but I don’t remember any specifics.

Yesterday, I wanted to visit that room with friends to “neighbor.” Better yet, I wanted to sit on the front porch or deck and neighbor. Sounds archaic, doesn’t it? “To “neighbor.” The longing yesterday was strong. If it had been warmer, I would have rented someone’s front porch.

Recently, a writer asked if you had one hour to sit on a porch or island and talk to one person, who would it be? A one-time deal? One chance—one person? I couldn’t decide, so I opted out of the game. I decided this morning: Mike Metheny, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Jerry Jenkins has written 180 plus books. He wrote the Left Behind series and is one of the most sought after biographers of sports figures. His first sports biography was with Hank Aaron. Jenkins has worked with a ton of big-name players—I brag—I have some in my library. I heard an interview with Jenkins. He says that Metheney is not only the toughest man in baseball, he is also a gentleman with class, character and evangelical faith.

The Metheny Manifesto was published last month and is the number one sports book on Amazon.

Metheny was a catcher in the Bigs. He had no big league managing experience when the Cardinals hired him. There was concern that him being a “man of faith” would hinder his ability to deal with umpires. He does not swear. I have heard the one thing that will get a manager tossed is to address an umpire with any word connected to “you….” In his first managing year, he went out to argue with an umpire. They chatted a bit. Mike needed to get thrown out to show the team he was going to protect them. The ump wouldn’t toss him. Later in the game an umpire missed a call that looked like it was going to cost the Cardinals the game. Metheny went out and explained his displeasure with the call. Again, they chatted. The umpire finally said, “I’m finished talking about this—Mike we got it right.” Metheney told the ump he wasn’t finished and was going to stay on the field until either the call was reversed or he was asked to leave. The call was not reversed.

After the game, a coach that Metheny had been talking to about his faith, asked the manager if he was okay. He asked him if he had sword at the umpire, which is the magic ejection button. No, he had not sworn. He explained how it went down—“I’m going to stay on the field….” The coach said, “You’re the only manager in baseball history to get thrown out of a ballgame for loitering.”

I’m taking appointments for porch time—some place where I can loiter meaningfully.

Needing to Neighbor

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

Writer, Wonderer, Loiterer

Passion/Desire the starting point of all achievement

Greeks didn’t write obituaries. According to Dean Kansky in Serendipity, the Greeks only asked one question after a person died: “Did he have passion?”

Napoleon Hill lists 13 steps to riches in his book Think and Grow Rich. They are not listed in any specific order, but all are required. All do, however, flow out of the first one: Desire. If I understand the definitions, Desire is synonymous with passion. That factor is the beginning of all achievement and the stimulus of the energy to move toward an objective.

Napoleon Hill was orphaned at age 12. I’m reminded that of the top 300 world leaders and influencers through the 20th Century, the vast majority were also orphaned or abandoned. I have just finished rewriting or formatting for ebook publication three books I’ve worked on for ten-fifteen years. Three topics: Hope, Anger, Children of Divorce and abandonment. Thrivers in those groups have learned the ability to think and have identified their passion—the desire that motivates them.

Desire-passion is not enough. That energized dream demands a focus. The back story of Think and Grow Rich is: there is no free lunch. You get nothing for nothing. Therefore, what “product” will you offer in exchange for what you desire? (Read the revised and updated book. Please! And talk to me about what you learn and question.)

I don’t know the prognosis, but a high school classmate is ill. We were not close in school therefore, we haven’t talked since graduation. We have never had a substantive conversation. Another classmate suggested I be in touch, so I wrote a letter. The letter is mostly about my family—as if he would care. Perhaps he will—I sent him my best press release. As I proofed the letter, I realized most of all, I wanted to ask him—what have you given your life to? What has been your passion? Have you fulfilled the potential I saw in you and what I admired in you? Has your life been what you wanted it to be?

Passion gets lived out by asking the Internet customer or a work associate “Tell me about you.”

James L. Swanson wrote a gripping article in the Smithsonian magazine about the loneliest historical site in America on April 14. It is Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. at the hour of Lincoln’s assassination. Swanson’s grandmother presented him with an engraving of William Booth’s Derringer when Swanson was ten years old. He became a collector of all things about the act, artifacts and characters of the Lincoln killing. As result, he wrote several books and in writing the Smithsonian piece, I breathlessly learned much.

“…it would have been obscene to bury the President of the United States with a bullet in his brain. It had to be dug out.”

Edward Curtis, an assistant surgeon at the autopsy dug out the bullet. He tells of holding the brain in his hands and hearing the bullet fall into a white china basin. Swanson says when he visits the bullet, “I can hear its echo in the basin.” So did I as he described the procedure.

There are some people who I would like to get that deeply into their head—to know them. Most will not stand still long enough to let us use a cordless drill to look inside. So we find non-intrusive questions and observations as they answer our question: What is your passion?

Blogger, podcaster and book author Jeff Goins says, “In a world full of noise, the way you get people to care about you (or your product) is to care about them first.” Then you will know how to add value to their lives—making your product sticky.

If you gave me permission to examine that deeply into your soul, what would I find in the file folder labeled PASSION?

Myles Munroe said, “God created you with a definite purpose in mind.” If God had you in His sights as much as Jeremiah when He said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you to…” (Jeremiah 1:5). Set apart for what?

Passion erupts out of that assignment.

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

Writer, Wonderer, Passion igniter.

Shoes

A family close to us celebrated the birth of the first grandchild on the weekend. We’ve prayerfully followed the pregnancy, so the boy’s arrival was exciting for us. I don’t remember ever posting one of Carole’s songs, but the song she wrote about grandparenting when our first grandchild was born fit the moment. I posted it to our tribe and then to the world—at least to humans connected to my Facebook page.

I was tightly focused on the song. I fantasized about it—it will fall into the hands of a singer or record company—you know the rest of that story.

A California friend who hasn’t been paying attention asked, “Is this your first?” I had absolute tunnel vision! Knowing he is a musician—we sang together in another century—I assumed he was asking about the song. It seemed an odd way to ask if this was the first song we had written? Published? Recorded?

He was thinking grandchildren, I was obsessing on the song. I replied something like:

“We’ve produced an album of Carole’s. A couple of them mine. Mostly about family. I like her unique approach.”

Huh?

When one of our grandchildren was new, Carole collected baby shoes, put Mother Hen and Chicks plants in the shoes and gave them as gifts—(Not the kid, the shoes.)  She wrote this poem to accompany the baby shoes.

Little Feet

Little feet that grow so fast—

Tiny shoes become the past.

Bigger feet to run their race,

I pray, Dear Lord, give them grace.

Help them look before they leap.

I pray, Oh, Lord, their souls You’ll keep.

Every time I see their shoes,

I’ll lift my children up to you.

Guide their steps and watch their way

Walk close beside them every day.

©2015 Carole L. Benton

On this weekend of new babies moving in and young adults leaving home to start their own adventure, the importance of parents and grandparents’ prayers seems huge—regardless the size of their Reeboks.

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