Monthly Archives: January 2016

Whose Vision?

Billionaire Charles Koch projects a non-profit organization to “revitalize civil society.” Its initial efforts will focus on poverty and educational quality.

I know very little about the Koch brothers. I know they put a lot of money into Republican causes and candidates and they look like the source of all things evil to people on the Left. I don’t know enough about them to have an opinion. The headline reminded me of two others who used that kind of language. William Wilberforce dedicated his life to outlawing slavery. The other is John Wesley who had a two-pronged mission:

To spread scriptural holiness throughout the land, and to change the manners of the nation.

Wilberforce was a politician with access to the smoke-filled rooms and back hallways of England. Wesley’s preaching, teaching and small group skills impacted politics and almost every part of culture and society.

I wonder what the drunks and addicts and people at the legal edges thought when they heard the mission statements of Wilberforce, Wesley and their companions. Wesley’s peers in his own denomination didn’t invite him to preach in their pulpits.

I went to a Chris Christie town hall meeting yesterday. Every person running for President except Mr. Trump was in our city or within 50 miles. One of our tribe members had breakfast with Rick Perry. It sounds like Bernie had the largest crowd.

I like Christie. Liking him and voting for him may not be the same. He made us all (200-250 in a coffee shop) feel comfortable. He was funny and answered questions proficiently. He interacted with people with what appeared to be authenticity. As some of my friends would say, with politicians who can tell?
The lady standing next to me told me she is voting for Bernie. She had been to the morning Rubio event. She had been to several of the candidates’ events. I asked her as many questions as possible. Each answer came with a statement: “Under no circumstance would I vote for….” She said, “They all have a vision.”

I wonder what Bernie Sander’s vision is. He is a self-proclaimed socialist. Does he then, have a vision of no private enterprise? No private property? Collectives? There ain’t no free lunch and there will be no free college. Someone will pay. I want to hear his vision as it fits in our form of government and economic system. Socialism and capitalism are mutually exclusive. Can a socialist honestly say yes to the question asked on Inauguration Day? In this age of kick in the door and ‘em out, I have a clue why Bernie is appealing. But, his vision…?

Listening to the questions yesterday, most, if not all, were about Christie’s plan to maintain the status quo or what he would do to help my special interest group—most of them certainly worthy. I may have to read his book to capture his vision other than we’re going to be different than the past 7 years.

The debates are made of soundbytes and gotcha moments. I think both slates of candidates have effectively “disqualified” each other. Most people will vote the same ticket they have always voted and will pick candidates on the basis of their smile. I get it why my friends and family will caucus for and vote for their choices.

I’m in the undecided pile. I’m also in the group that is sick of the snarky cynicism and stupid attack ads. The lady next to me struggled a bit when I asked if she had heard “visions” in the gathering she attended. She finally said she had.

Which of the candidates would you trust to do what Wilberforce and Wesley set out to accomplish? Especially about improving the manners of society. Whose view of propriety is acceptable to you? No executive order will fix what is wrong with our society nor realign our culture. Whose vision?

The feeling that dominated yesterday’s event for me—and it was a feeling that “settled over me.” When I saw the TV up-link truck, the “suits” and guys talking into their cufflinks, I knew this was not just a coffee klatch. I was overwhelmed by the hugeness of what I was seeing. The guy who looked me in the eye and shook my hand is asking to be the one who will have that index finger on the red button—and sign the executive orders. My intent yesterday was to see the candidate and observe the crowd. Part of the “feeling” is the fear it won’t make much of a difference—without knowing the vision.

I want to help the new Pres to select his/her cabinet. I would select Rick Santorum for Secretary of Passion. I wanted to ask the candidate why he got into public service in the first place and if that passion still resides in his gut.

Stephen Mansfield, who has written bios of George W and President Obama, has a new book releasing in February. “Ask the Question: Why We Must Demand Religious Clarity from Our Presidential Candidates.”
Some of the news people are using the phrase, “Rubio is dropping the ‘J’ word frequently.” The “J word” is Jesus. One of the presidents handed his successor a file card of things he deals with each day and a sheet listing demanding problems that the new president will face “tomorrow.” The out-going president said, “(My successor’s) face turned ghostly white.”

I think the living presidents should call for a period of national prayer prior to the election. They alone know the severity of this election and what the incoming will face. I walked to the car after the meeting yesterday feeling sobered by the “hugeness.” I have not prayed enough for the 21st Century Wilberforce and Wesley who will “revitalize the civil society.”

©2016 D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer
Bentonministries.com

Blog: journeybend.wordpress.com
Twitter: @DeanBenton
Facebook: facebook.com/dean.benton3
Email: benfammin@mchsi.com
Ebooks: smashwords.com/profile/view/DDBenton/

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Roughers

At a recent builders and construction product convention, contractors were asked the number one business problem they faced. Seventy-percent said, “Lack of roughers and carpenters.” Skilled workers are hard to find. A “rougher” roughs in a house—frames it.

A man, whose home was manufactured in New Hampshire, then put on pallets and shipped on semis from New Hampshire to the Indiana home site was told by the homebuilder, “The wood we use in the pallets is better than most builders use in their homes. You’ll want to salvage as much of it as you can. Don’t let the framers burn it up.”

We went to a funeral over the weekend. The deceased was one of my oldest friends. I saw other friends I haven’t seen for decades and people who were part of our family 35-40 years ago. We drove through the city of my birth and nearly got lost in neighborhoods that once were my “stompin grounds.”

CHANGE!

I searched people’s faces for a clue—a glimpse in their eyes or a mannerism that would indicate I once knew them. And answered the question, “Did you used to be Dean Benton?”

This is the second time in four months that I’ve made this trip into my past lives. Frankly, it has left me trying to sort through thoughts and feelings I can’t totally name or identify.

I heard so many stories! Had I heard them when they were fresh, I would have done something. Of course, some of them were none of my business, but some could have been. Question is, would my involvement made it better or worse? But, I grieve over the pain those people endured. Much of my vision and mission is to bring healing and new purpose to those whose scars are still red.

Thus far in my processing: the need for roughers and skilled carpenters. A “rougher” frames the building. Their responsibility is not finishing touches or staging. They make sure things are square, straight and will withstand time and usage. They also make sure the finish work will have a solid foundation.
Driving around my home city, landmarks screamed memories at me. Places I didn’t fit. Places I wanted to fit, but couldn’t. Having more roughers might have helped—skilled people who could square things or put a level on weight bearing walls.

A crowd is an opportunity for me to gawk at people. One of the sights was a three-generation family. They were touching each other—arms hooked together and especially the dad’s hand planted protectively and oozing affection—“you are mine and I’m glad” kind of grip.

My latest ebook Depot will be launched within the next two weeks. It is a novel about heritage, destiny and legacy—acts of roughing. The editor says it is a “good book” and added, “good stuff!” Among the important scenes is when Gil and Amanda Adams furnish a house.

We are slightly addicted to HGTV where we watch walls torn down and houses found to be needing repair are renovated. We have a friend who “stages” houses. She wants to do it full time. She knows what to do to “present” a house. Curb appeal from the front door. Thank God there are people in our lives who add to, repair and upgrade.

Needed: Roughers, carpenters, stagers.

©2016 D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer
Bentonministries.com

Blog: journeybend.wordpress.com
Twitter: @DeanBenton
Facebook: facebook.com/dean.benton3
Email: benfammin@mchsi.com
Ebooks: smashwords.com/profile/view/DDBenton/

Silence and hearing

If you’ve been paying attention, I’ve been thinking and studying meditation.. We live 50 miles from the TM capital of the West and that approach has made me leery and nervous, therefore, I had settled on the secular approach. No philosophical or theological connections. The Hindus or Buddhists did not invent meditation nor does meditation automatically pollute your spirit.

My interest in meditation is motivated by my desire to 1. shut down the inner critic and the constant narrative. 2. My mind is always “at the office.” 3. I want to hear God speak. We cannot hear the voice of God clearly while all the other “voices” are screaming for attention. I have rediscovered the Quakers’ approach to silence and worship.

“This quiet, contemplative worship has another component that sets it apart from other spiritual silences. That is, ‘that brazen expectation of hearing the voice of God.’ Quaker (approach to) silence is filled with expectation—expectation that God will speak. When we hear God, our lives are changed.” (“Holy Silence,” J. Brent Bill, Paraclete Press, 2005)

“…that brazen expectation of hearing the voice of God.” (Scott Russell Sanders)

The suggested routine is:
1. Relax your body and mind. (Sit with your spine straight, feet flat on the floor.)
2. Breathe deeply.
3. Focus—abandon multi-tasking for a few moments—put down your book, turn off the TV. Stop your mind from making work lists.
4. Ask your question.
5. Listen—expect to hear God speak. What are the first spontaneous words you hear in your mind-soul or what is the image that comes first in response to your question?
6. Write it down in your journal.
7. Question? Usually, the first six steps are adequate. You may respond with, “Heard it. Now, what does this mean?” When you “hear” God say something that is questionable—move, buy a new car, join the United States Air Force or go work on the Trump Campaign team—ask a spiritual director you trust to listen to what you have “heard.”
This grows out of my research for personal seeking of God as in Matthew 6:33 and Hebrew 11:6 and Section Six of my manuscript “Seizin’ Your Season.”

Questions? Comments?

©2016 D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer
Bentonministries.com

Blog: journeybend.wordpress.com
Twitter: @DeanBenton
Facebook: facebook.com/dean.benton3
Email: benfammin@mchsi.com
Ebooks: smashwords.com/profile/view/DDBenton/

What we really want

Four years ago, I said the same thing: In Iowa, it is difficult to even find your way to the bathroom without stumbling over someone running for president.

This is a bizarre election cycle. From my writing desk I look directly to a bookcase containing books written by every president elected in the USA and a few who wanted to be, but weren’t. With all the anti-establishment rhetoric and alignment, I’m reminded of the Israelites movement rebellion. The scripture says that God gave them what they wanted, but sent with it “leanness of soul.” I’m concerned what we get won’t be what we need.

I haven’t decided who to vote for. I can find something to like in each candidate. In all of the anger, distrust and ranting against everything inside the Beltway, I think Americans want someone to believe in us. In one of my Winston Churchill books is this statement:

“If the English possessed the courage and determination he continually saw in them, it was because he had helped create it by the intensity of his belief in their qualities. They conceived a new idea of themselves. They went forward into battle transformed by his words.”

“They conceived a new idea of themselves.”

That is what a leader does—infuses courage and determination in the common person to excel beyond their doubt and fear. Which candidate(s) on the two stages not only can do that, but is predisposed to do it?

©2016 D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer
Bentonministries.com

Blog: journeybend.wordpress.com
Twitter: @DeanBenton
Facebook: facebook.com/dean.benton3
Email: benfammin@mchsi.com
Ebooks: smashwords.com/profile/view/DDBenton/

Connections

In his book, The Miracle of the Kurds, (Worthy Publishing, 2014) Stephen Mansfield tells the story of Ferhad, a 24-year old with a passion for technology, with an ability to broker deals. Ferhad spoke to Mansfield at length about listening to his father and brothers describing connections they needed to do business.

“He would listen carefully over dinners and then, the next day, he often arrived at the family business with the perfect client in tow. He had a gift. He knew it, and he intended to offer this gift to an international slate of clients. He could see it in his mind’s eye.”

Mansfield continues: “More than once he erupted…with a question about what connections I might need to be ‘even more a successful man, Mr. Mansfield. Think of it. An even more successful man.’” (Page 202)

Someone said every successful enterprise has included the work in response to “This is the life that I want.” In a word—CLARITY. That is why you do heavy-duty work on your Elevator Pitch. You clarify what you are about by putting into a 30-second presentation of exactly who you are, what you do, who you do it for, why they benefit and how. You will hand them your card describing where all this happens.

“What connections I might need.”

Who could you talk to that would help you take the next step? Most of us will be reluctant to consider this because we discount our value or dream. Someone said that “goals are dreams and visions in gym clothes.”

If God has a “future seeking to emerge,” He must also have a way to reveal that future to us. That future is available to those who “diligently seek Him.” Clarity is one of the personal workshops required.

If you know “This is the life that I want,” or if you have a glimpse of the alternative future you see, then determining what connection(s) would benefit.

What does it mean to “seek God?” Jesus said, “First, seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness….” First! Seeking God can/will be done at altars, at tables, in front of white boards covered with words and numbers. Who would you want to take with you to that altar? Who would you like to sit at your table? Who would you like to have writing on that white (chalk) board? That is the connection you need.

With no attached images or limitation, think “Connections I need” as you read Ephesians 4:11-13

©2015 D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer
Bentonministries.com

Blog: journeybend.wordpress.com
Twitter: @DeanBenton
Facebook: facebook.com/dean.benton3
Email: benfammin@mchsi.com
Ebooks: smashwords.com/profile/view/DDBenton/

Work to be done

So, the Stanford band ridiculed and made fun of Iowa at the Rose Bowl half-time. Perhaps the youngsters should read their school’s history and the boost it got from their famous Iowa graduate Herbert Hoover. When Hoover left the White House he went to live on campus and to become one of its important benefactors. There is a Hoover School of Business at Stanford and other international schools on that campus that bear his name.

Hoover loved his wife Lou, baseball, fishing and work. When he vacationed on the Florida Keys, he had four desks installed in his living quarters, one for each of the four books he was writing simultaneously. “He never lost his appetite for the strenuous life,” Richard Norton Smith wrote in “An Uncommon Man.”

The spirit of Herbert Hoover may be my inspiration for the New Year. Hoover got things done. He who saved more people from starvation than Stalin and Hitler could murder.

“You have dreams. You have to rise to your dreams,” he proclaimed and modeled.

Hoover “fought hard for collective bargaining, the minimum wage, an end to child labor, and guaranteed equality of pay for working women.” (page 31)

When in his 90s, the doctors were speaking of his impending death. He said to his worried son, “I am going to pull through. I still have a great deal of work to do.” According to biographer Smith, “For young Hoover, who had already alerted the Kennedy White House to prepare for his father’s funeral, the next morning brought startling confirmation of the old man’s resolve. At 7:30 A.M. the patient sat up in bed, called for his pipe and announced, ‘We’re back in business.’”

2016—there’s work to be done.

“…David…served his generation according to the will of God…(Acts 13:36 NLT).

Nothing more important than to know your calling and being faithful to your assignment.

©2016 D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer
Bentonministries.com

Blog: journeybend.wordpress.com
Twitter: @DeanBenton
Facebook: facebook.com/dean.benton3
Email: benfammin@mchsi.com
Ebooks: smashwords.com/profile/view/DDBenton/