Monthly Archives: May 2015

Catalysts

What to do with the bike hanging upside down in the garage?

That expensive bike has been hanging there ten or twelve years. As far as I remember no one in the family has ever ridden it. It just hangs there. I put it there “for the day when….” Someday, one of our two grandgirls would use it. There was another idea that must have been hatched during delirium: Carole and I would ride bikes together. I don’t even have a bike and Carole is not much of a biker chic. Chic—yes; biker chic—not so much.

It is not going to happen. With one grandgirl in college and the other a high school senior, the probability they are going to want that beautiful bike—with gears—is not likely to happen. The upside down bike is symbolic.

A trifle part has been my other delusion that as long as the bike was there, my girls would not grow beyond me. Maybe they would go bike riding with me. After ten or twelve years, the evidence is in: it is not going to happen.

About once a year, the Lady and I have said—“we really ought to do something with that bike.” The conversation always ends with, “Yeah, probably.” But it hangs in the way of progress and storage shelves are definitely progress.

That bike is a far greater symbol. Recent days have forced me to ask what else is hanging in storage. A conversation with a significant friend of long ago with whom I have not talked for over five decades has thrown me into serious introspection. I was about my granddaughter’s age when we met!! I had not one goal to my name. I had no direction, or any prospect of having a life purpose. In the first few weeks after our meeting, I discovered church as family, a redesigning of life. I was not ignorant of those things, but now they became very personal and applicable to me. I was no longer a kid. Preachers, teachers, singers have always been important to me, but now they were no longer a distant component, they were speaking to the realities of my past, present and future in graphic terms. It would take two decades to bring me up to speed—healing, tutoring, mentoring, self-awareness, but it began there. And that friend was a catalyst, although neither of us would have used that word.

I entered a new world where preachers talked about miracles and prayed for them to happen as a matter of course and fact. I was on a new journey and walking with Jesus.

The short email from the friend from the past has thrown me into severe self-examination. What is still hanging in storage? What wounds are yet not healed? What is standing in the way of God’s plan for the next season?

My first inclination was to tell my friend about our adventures, where God has taken us, the people we’ve met and worked with. That was not intended to impress anyone, it was more about sharing a few things that God has done since the catalytic days. It feels like accountability.

This is also life-evaluation. Am I where God wants me to be at this point in His plan? The re-connection is not just with the friend from another life-time, but with the me when I was in those days What needs to be celebrated that we neglected because of the driven-ness to get to the next project or goal?

Lots of activity in the garage. While others work, I’ve been staring at the bike. There is another message:

Don’t hang it up.

©2015 D. Dean Benton

Writer, Wonderer, Meanderer

I’ve had a Twitter account for awhile. Now that I have a new smart phone, I activated the Twitter account—nothing like being on the cutting edge. My son and I just made a trip to the dump. I could tweet you about such excitement if you decide to follow me.  I could also tell you what dynamic things I’m hearing, seeing, reading.

Advertisements

Kingdom People Can Multi-task

I don’t want to awkwardly climb off my high horse.

President Obama seems to enjoy tutoring Christians with historical references. Last week he said Christians should be more active and concerned about the poor than opposing gay marriage and abortion. Mr. President, the People of God are capable of multi-tasking.

Seven hundred pastors in Kenya told Mr. Obama he was welcome to visit their country next month, but to please refrain from lecturing them on homosexuality. “Leave the preaching to us,” was their headline.

The poor. One of my favorite stories is Man of LaMancha which has as background the horrible Inquisition. Not one of the Church’s best hours! Nor were the Crusades which in part were defensive responses against the Muslims. “We Conquer…in the name of Christ.” Not pretty. But while the history books record stories of the Crusaders, they also tell the stories of the wives and mothers at home carrying for the poor and the sick, some of which were Muslims. World historians—more specifically Roman historians say that the Church of Jesus Christ won the Roman Empire by caring for their enemy’s sick. Caring for the poor has always been a dominant character of People of the Way.

One of the bends in my journey came when Dr. Will Campbell spoke at my University. He was a friend and participant in the Civil Rights Movement while at the same time he served as a chaplain for the KKK. I think Brother Campbell wrote it in his book Brother to a Dragonfly, but I heard the answer firsthand. Someone asked him how he could pull off being active in both opposing camps. He answered, “By carrying the bedpans of their sick.”

Mr. President, please read the rest of the historical story. You also need to hang with some of my friends and family. I have found those closest to the Bible tend to be the most faithful and generous givers. They stand for what they believe to be true and give sacrificially to the poor and sick and needy.

Some of my friends have a habit of adopting orphans and visiting Ethiopia. Before I went to kindergarten, my family sent offerings to the mission to Ethiopia. We have been giving to the African nations my entire life. It is not just historical, the mission continues. My wife and I helped buy an Ethiopian chicken farm to enable a village to become financially self-sufficient. Friends have taught villagers financial principles and others built water purification apparatus which they carry to the countries God has called them to.

My youth was filled with images, stories and personalities of World Vision, Salvation Army, missions to Burma, China, Africa and other nations with others committed to wherever there were poor and needy. That is part of the history that is ignored during the demeaning diatribes. The Crusaders of the 20th Century sought ways to improve lives and save souls. Most of them made mistakes; some screwed up and looked to the critics like self-serving colonists. We saw people as lost as well as hungry. The brightest among us knew that we could never lead someone to Christ as long as their stomachs were empty.

I’m sure the folks at Samaritan Purse were surprised to hear they needed to pay attention to the poor. That organization and dozens like it are the first responders in Nepal and New Orleans.

Ask who builds the hospitals and infrastructure in the third world. Who built hospitals in this country and cared for the poor and sick and needy and homeless in our nation’s history. In my city of birth, the names of the hospitals were, Methodist, Mercy (Roman Catholic), Lutheran. Who fought the outbreak of the ebola threats during the past year? Most of those early front-liners were connected to Christian mission organizations.

Caring for the sick, ministering to the poor and expressing beliefs that are deeply held are not mutually exclusive. Upward mobility is one of the byproducts in Central and South American countries because Pentecostals taught the Word of God including self-reliance, personal responsibility while declaring personal purity and sexual holiness. The poor became the mission because the leaders were poor. There are many stories of the poor becoming a sanctified political force as transformation and formation changed people. Societal transformation is still happening in Mozambique and a thousand other “war” fronts. Talk to Heidi Baker about caring for the poor on the city dumps.

A friend motivated us to buy 119,000 pencils to send to the poor. Does that count? I have close friends reaching out to the poor in The Dominican Republic at this moment. Other close friends have been to Haiti in the past few months and others are scheduled to work in India this summer.

I shall continue to pray for you Mr. President. I am also praying for those who are committed to going to the streets in USA and foreign countries to do what they can for the poor.

Dr. Michael Savage is an over-the-top radio talk show host. He screams a lot and knows how to verbalize cynicism. He’s been quoting Jeremiah recently. Last week he got very quiet just before saying, “You’re going to wonder where this is coming from. Only religion will save this country.”  Jesus is the answer, but I want to hear specifics!

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

The Power of a #2 Pencil

I’ve written about 50,000 words into a novel currently called The Carafe Conspiracy. There is a scene in the Southwood Mansion library where CEO Brent Barrows is talking to newcomer to the Southwood Company and tribe Chad Wilson. I’ve not been satisfied with their conversation. Something was missing. A couple of paragraphs from my friend Janet Tyler Johnson’s book Finding Financial Fulfillment now ties it together.

“For some of us, the hardest part is trying to figure out what we really want our life to look like….”

“If you’re not willing to…get a clear picture in your head, don’t expect your life to change.”

“Unless…don’t expect your life to change.”

Brent Barrows says after reading those words, “The life you’ve been living is gone. It is no longer available. The doors have been nailed shut. Bridges burned. What do you want to do with the next season? It will be what you decide. If you choose not to decide, you will spend the rest of your life longingly looking at the closed doors. If you take the time and energy to drawn pictures and write your vision in specific terms, you can have it. Mr. Wilson, what kind of a life do you want to live? Where? Doing what? Making how much money? Empowering whom?”

Janet Tyler Johnson suggests we draw pictures of the life we want and hang them on the wall. Your decisions and activated visions have the power to focus your work and efforts. It is the first step to changing your life. For some, it is the first step to wealth. For all, it is the first step to satisfaction that you are doing what will bring the greatest return on your efforts.

What do you want your life to look like? What do you want to do with your life?

©2015 D. Dean Benton  bentonministries.com

Dean’s ebooks:  http//:www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DDeanBenton/

A Roofing Project

American author Anna Quindlen writes a chapter in her 2000 book Loud and Clear: “A New Roof on an Old House.” Her family was putting a slate roof on the old farmhouse that was meant to last at least one-hundred years. Listen to this :

“In this fast food, face-lift, no-fault divorce world of ours, the slate roof feels like the closest we will come to eternity. It and the three children for whom it is really being laid down.

“Mother’s Day is a silly holiday…. It is silly because something as fleeting and finite as 24 hours is the antithesis of what it means to mother a child. This is the work of the ages.

“One slate laid upon another and another, and in the end, if they have done the job with care and diligence, you have built a person, reasonably resistant to the rain.

“There is the roof, growing larger and stronger, one small piece after another making a great whole, until it can withstand winds and heat and blizzards and downpours. It is a utilitarian thing, and a majestic one, too. There are ghosts beneath its eaves, ghosts not yet to be born, the ghosts of my children’s grown children, saying, ‘Our grandparents put that roof on the house….’ And if I speak through the opaque curtain of time I would say, ‘We did it to keep you safe and warm, so that you could do your best by you and yours, just as we have tried to do—the work of the ages.”

I have watched my wife mother our children—who have children of their own for whom she has felt responsibility to make sure about the roof. When she awakened me the morning that Debi would be born, I said, “Go back to sleep, it will be alright.” She didn’t and she never got over the habit of being a mother. I’m watching her mother (verb) on this day when she should be collecting accolades. To be true to Ms. Quindlen’s story, the slate roof work never ends for the woman. My female friends who have no biological children find ways to birth and mother and supervise the roofing.

I’m celebrating the ladies who bring wisdom, insight and affection to me from that unique perspective that God installed.

The work of the ages.

©D. Dean Benton  http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DDeanBenton/

Words from the weekend

Brené Brown says that scarcity is the issue of the day that leads us to absolute conviction that we are not worthy. “Never enough, sentenced to be ‘less than.’ Never smart enough, never thin enough, never enough money, never…enough. Therefore not worthy to be blessed or included or happy or—you fill in your word. (Daring Greatly, Copyright 2012 Portfolio-Penguin)

“Worthiness” is not like an opinion or substance. It is not something you can describe like my friends who are St. Louis Cardinal fans. “Hey Dude, what do you think about the Cardinals?” Worthy or unworthy is like the air that you walk around in or it is like living your whole life in a lake and being unworthy is the water. Our feeling of worth or unworthiness colors everything. It is not a box in your head—a compartment just down the hall from self-esteem. Experiencing worth changes everything. It puts us into a different atmosphere. Wait! I found the words: Kingdom life.

“The surest thing I took away from my BSW, MSW, and Ph.D. in social work is this: Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives us purpose and meaning in our lives, and without it there is suffering.”  (Brown page 8)

Given that, non-connection is the worst thing. Isolation or hiding out was the first thing Adam and Eve did after the Fruit Tree episode. The person who feels unworthy disconnects and absolutely does not try to connect with others. Life in the lake is one of isolation, avoidance, hiding to protect oneself from being rejected.

When Jesus was teaching that worry was counter productive and a waste of energy, He based it on one fact—”You are of more value to the Father than….” And! Jesus says, have you noticed how precious those things are to Him? YOU have more worth to Him, therefore! I appreciate the teaching on worry, but I am most amazed at the core of the lesson—You are of more value to the Father…” (Matthew 6:26). The lynchpin question is, “Are you not much more valuable than they?” It is a rhetorical question that Jesus assumes the answer and builds His teaching on “therefore….”

Birds of the field don’t sow or reap, but humans can and must. If you have pet birds, you know they get more food on the floor than they eat. They are “repopulating the forest.” They are sowing. When we get a heart-realization that we are worthy of “reaping” we will figure out what we are supposed to be sowing so we will have something we want to reap.

This is my favorite song to sing in concert. One particular line—”a vessel of honor, I am today.” Because God counts us worthy, we are! Because through Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, we are a vessel of honor. Therefore, all behaviors and decisions are based on what would a vessel of honor do or how would it respond?

I asked a question the other day—given the images we’ve seen this week and words we’ve heard, what do you need to hear, say or sing on the Lord’s Day. I thought I had an answer. I heard different words than I expected:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRbWAtU6LPw

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

Writer, Wonderer, Clay.