Monthly Archives: March 2016


It seems odd to me that after decades of fascination with local and world-wide evangelists, I have not known of Henry Grattan Guinness. There were three branches of the Guinness tree. We know the brewers. The economic world knows of the bankers and politicians. I did not know how pervasive into my world the missionary-preacher branch of the family reached. I have the books of Os Guinness and have spoken often of his thinking and teaching. That branch is known as the Grattan branch.

Henry Grattan Guinness preached to crowds numbering in the tens of thousands in England, Wales, Ireland, Norway and America. His peers included Spurgeon, Sankey, Moody, Semple-McPherson. He was offered the pastorate of the church that had been the home base of Whitefield. I believe Henry Grattan Guinness received the mantle of George Whitefield. He was in his early twenties as he toured and preached as many as thirteen times a week to tens of thousands of people in the streets of major world cities such as New York.

Perhaps had Os Guinness not had such an impact on my thinking, Guinness would have been just one more beer I do not drink. I heard an interview with Stephen Mansfield about his biography of God and Guinness—the beer that changed the world. I’m into the second book about the family written by the wife of a great, great, great grandson of Arthur. God has used this adventure to stimulate my soul and mold pieces of a fresh vision.

The third family branch birthed spiritual explorers and pioneers. Henry Grattan began with his world-wide reputation as an evangelist. His middle years turned toward missions when one of his children married the son of J. Hudson Taylor. The Guinness’ trained hundreds of missionaries sent to China. In 1888, Henry wrote a book about biblical prophecy which is still in print. You may buy a new paperback or hardcover copy of that book today from Amazon.

Mansfield lists accomplishments and impact of the Guinness apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, pastors and how their faith changed the world and then he asks the prime question that has pushed me and tormented me since my second year of Bible college: Where did this extraordinary anointing and favor come from? Upon reading that question, I thought of John Adams who tried to answer the question about himself. He came from uneducated parents without academic or religious curiosity. Mansfield answers the question with a “…perhaps it was as Arthur was listening or contemplating the message of John Wesley that a fire was ignited.”

My vision may be informed by God’s working through Guinness, Cadbury and Lever—beer, chocolate and soap—but the vision leans forward. What do we need to declare the full gospel of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom? What declaration? What curriculum?

Michelle Guinness, the wife of Peter Guinness, a descendent of the oldest Arthur and a member of the third branch, wrote “Genius of Guinness.” She gives us insight into the source and power of those who continue to influence the world with their preaching, teaching and witness. I quote her:

“One of my favorite family characters has always been Jane Lucretia Guinness, Henry Grattan’s mother and my husband’s great-grandmother. Os Guinness, another of Jane’s descendants, maintains that she prayed that at least, and further, seven generations of Guinness would be totally committed to Jesus Christ.”

The impact of one woman’s prayers.

I suspect the high point of this Holy season for me has been the conversations—often filled with silliness and laughter—about what kind of prayer changes world history and most importantly, the trajectory of individual’s lives as it did Jane’s sons.

The second component in this mysterious life-building is…

“One of the major strengths of the Guinness men was the exceptional spouses they picked—women whose vision and courage….” (Michelle Guinness)

So, I’m lifting my unopened bottle of Guinness Draught to celebrate single mothers who are pouring into their daughters foundational experiences and truth that will produce godly results for generations and to the moms and dads who make it habit of teaching their sons to treat their sisters and female peers with respect. And to husbands who measure success by what they see in their wives eyes and on their faces.

That makes the current manure-slinging on the campaign trail about another man’s wife more important and insightful than the candidate’s foreign policy.

©2016  D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer


Twitter:       @DeanBenton






When did Jesus’ Triumphal Entry end? The Gospel writers tell two stories. One narrative has Jesus entering the city, walking around and looking at the Temple and then going to Bethany to return the next day to “cleanse” the Temple. The other story has Jesus entering the city and chasing the money changers out of the Temple immediately.

“Here, hold the colt while I take care of the Temple pollution.”

Since Jesus orchestrated the Triumphal Entry, I wonder what his intention was—what outcome? He had avoided the applause and told people to tone down the rhetoric. He usually left town when the crowds started making noise about declaring him king. But on Palm Sunday things changed. For what purpose?

The Entry didn’t end there, but when the parade reached the overlook and Jesus saw the city, the cheering stopped and Jesus wept. He predicts what is going to happen. The last phrase of Luke 19:41-44 sets my soul on edge. “…you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.” Other writers quote Jesus saying, “…you didn’t recognize your opportunity.”

Being a political junkie, I am calculating what a Republican contested or brokered convention might look like and what the outcome would be. Newt Gingrich said last week that the only president who even remotely looks like Trump is Andrew Jackson: Vulgar, violent and an outsider. Such a convention has been compared to the convention of 1824 when the prime cast members were Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay.

Henry Clay from Kentucky was a professional presidential candidate. His life focus for nearly thirty years was running for president. I am not surprised that the United States survived the Civil War as much as I am surprised she survived Henry Clay. In the 1824 election, Clay swung the election away from Jackson, who had won the popular vote, to John Quincy Adams through an electoral college maneuver. It was called “the corrupt bargain.” On his death bed, Andrew Jackson said one of his regrets was that he did not shoot Henry Clay.

Not much has been said about the election of 1840. Over three decades Clay ran for and lost the presidential election three times in three different political parties. He was still actively looking for ways to move into the White House. In 1840 William Henry Harrison was selected to be the presidential candidate and the party offered the Vice-Presidential slot to Henry Clay. He refused. “Disdainfully,” the historian says. He would not be shuttled off to a secondary position. He had worked for the nomination and above everything and everyone, he deserved it. The establishment, therefore, selected John Tyler as Harrison’s running mate.

One month after the election, William Henry Harrison died and the vice-president John Tyler became President. Henry Clay had missed his opportunity.

Back to that hill overlooking Jerusalem. Jesus weeps over missed opportunities and the unavoidable consequences. Was he talking about the single mother or the Jewish fellow who operated the neighborhood deli? What could they have done to shift outcomes? What did Jesus want from them? How had they sealed the fate of this city—“you of all people would understand the way to peace” (Luke 19:42b)?

Henry Clay would run for the presidency again in 1844. He lost. Novelist-historian Irving Stone says,

“He blamed his defeat on fraud, foreigners, Catholics, abolitionists, Tyler-ites, renegade Whigs—on everything except the life, career and character of Henry Clay.”

The King James Version translates Luke 19:44: “…because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

I don’t relate to the Triumphal Entry. We cannot duplicate it with a great worship event. I worry about the colt getting home and how Jesus’ words impact that Jerusalem deli owner. What am I to do with the palm branches—it feels so awkward and unnatural. So I get stuck with Jesus overlooking the city and weeping. It would be easy to tuck Matthew 23:37 into the story:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

I don’t want to miss the “visitation.” So, I calculate my life, actions, character and contemplate what needs correction or adjustment.  I stand as close to the colt as security allows and say to Jesus, “I don’t get all of this. But, I’m willing. What? Where? With whom? I’m willing.”

©2016  D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer



Twitter:       @DeanBenton





What’s the story?

Bernadette Jiwa says her little brother (died at 31) never greeted her with a “hello” or “how are you.” His greeting was always, “What’s the story?”

“This is a common way to greet people in Ireland. It stands for Hello, what’s up? What’s going on? How are you? I believe the English expression stems from the Irish aon sceal, which literally means “any story?” or “have you any story?” (Difference, The Story of Telling Press, 2014)

She says that asking “what’s the story?” means “tell me everything that’s important to you right now.”

“People want to be a part of something, to have a story to tell, to have something to believe in. They want—actually, no, they expect—the people they do business with to understand them and to build around their wants, their needs and even their unexpressed desires.” (Jiwa)

What’s your story?

For ten or twenty years, the power of story has been the central tenet in the study of business. Malcom Gladwell is a story teller. Donald Miller builds advertising campaigns for the Lincoln automobile (and other companies) around the concept of story. You are compelled to do business with those whose story you assume you know, like or identify with. Marketing used to begin with the product and tell you why you should buy it. Today, marketing that works begins with the consumer’s story.

A troubling thought: Target knows more about you than many of your closest friends. They know your story that you told them through your purchases, questions you answered when you applied for discounts and what you “like.” You benefit by their offers to you based on your “preferences.”

Guinness and Cadbury are more than fascinating to me. I want to know the rest of the stories. In their experiences of huge success and failures and personal adversity, are solutions for the larger society and insight for you and me.

What’s your story?

Your story is more than your biography or résumé. It is about your preferences, likes, dislikes and triumphs.  That Louisiana lady’s story that I remember is her beauty, demeanor and her classiness.

This sounds contradictory. While Facebook learns more about us, we work harder at retaining our privacy. One of the central characters in the Southwood Series is slightly and superficially modeled after a lady I met in Louisiana. We were on opposite sides of a potluck table after a concert. She was a beautiful lady. I was attempting to engage them after someone said the couple had recently celebrated an anniversary. I asked how they met. Her husband looked at me and said, “I met her in New Orleans. She was working as a stripper.” He then asked me to pass the green beans. A testimony on Sunday morning that begins with, “When I was stripping in New Orleans” will quiet the crowd, but is not what I’m talking about.

Transparency and authenticity does not mean telling all your secrets. Guinness beer is my favorite beer although I have not (to this point) tasted it. I reject out of hand expanding the tax rate of the top1% to deal with poverty. But the story of Dr. Lumsden and the Board of Directors making drastic, sweeping decisions based on moral ethics and driving core values of the Guinness family is the story that changes the poverty landscape with private enterprise.

“Story” in marketing doesn’t mean the silly little dramas in the TV ads. Sears stood for quality and behind their products. If the Craftsman tool you bought ever broke or stopped working, the lifetime warranty guaranteed a free replacement. That was their story. Dependability, standing with and for the customer.

As I was preaching the other day, the dominant feeling in my spirit was, “People, what is your story? It has the power to influence.” If you will follow this link—  you will find the Difference Map. It will give you tools to answer, “What’s my story?” You will unearth your Spiritual gifts, you dreams and the key to joy, how to witness your faith and how to successfully sell hamburgers or widgets or….

What’s the story? Thank you.

©2016  D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer


Twitter:       @DeanBenton





Time to throw down

Words I serendipitously read while waiting for my computer to update. From Kris Vallotton:

“…intercessors (can be) neutralized because they have believed a lie and therefore developed a core value that says, ‘Disaster breeds humility, and humility gives birth to repentance, which in turn fuels revival.” When we see the world through this lens, we stop praying for deliverance and pray for endurance instead. …how many times we have let the devil wreak havoc in our lives of those around us because we thought God was testing us.” (The Supernatural Ways of Royalty, Kris Vallotton, Destiny Image Publishers, 2006).

That conversation tends to go in circles and can be an slippery trek. Thus far this morning, I have listened to John Eldredge talking about prayer. He said the same thing. My wife talked to me about this topic and these words from Vallotton. Carole reminded me that we don’t “throw down” and go after breakthrough as often as we should—as often as we are so empowered.

In my ebook HopePushers, I have a chapter called “Talk Me In Off the Ledge.” My point in that chapter is the importance of knowing what we are dealing with as we begin to intercede. Is this a test? Is it temptation? Is God attempting to teach me something?

When we determine what we are battling or surrendering to, we can more effectively pray.

We will use discernment and God’s direct word to our spirit to determine what is going on. A good place to use the regimen to hear God’s intent:





If you want a hard copy of the ebook, choose pdf and print it from your computer.


©2016  D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer


Twitter:       @DeanBenton




Another reason for another Cadbury egg

Have you had your 2016 Cadbury egg(s)?

John Cadbury established the largest chocolate factory in the world. He came from a family of Quakers and that faith shaped the moral and social values of his company. Before there was a Cadbury chocolate, John Cadbury considered being a lawyer and physician, but he was a Quaker and the prejudice of the day kept him out of school. Quakers were/are pacifists, so the military was not an option. He turned to business.

Cadbury’s story in England mirrors Arthur Guinness’ Ireland story. It feels odd or providential that I’ve discovered the Ireland story as we approach St Patrick’s Day and Cadbury’s story during the short season when the Cadbury egg is available. I feel obligated to have another one.

Heartbroken by the poverty in his English city, Cadbury established a grocery store in the inner city and concluded that alcohol kept his customers in poverty. By 1831 he determined to begin manufacturing chocolate and cocoa. He convinced himself that drinking chocolate and cocoa would offer an alternative to the gin and whiskey that was destroying England. The biographer says, “Merging his business skills with his Quaker sense of social duty, Cadbury bought an old malt house on Crooked Lane and began making chocolate. His business thrived.”

Cadbury in England and Guinness in Ireland. Their stories of faith, business acumen and faith-driven social concern are much the same. And they were connected by one of the Guinness employees—Dr. John Lumsden– a full time company physician. His vigor and vision thrust the company’s generosity and dedication to caring for employees and families into warp speed during the horrors of the Industrial Revolution.

Lumsden visited the homes of the 3000 employees and hundreds of homes surrounding the brewery. He took extensive notes describing living conditions, health, education and evident results. He reported to the company board and submitted a list of nine reforms that were to be undertaken immediately. That included building new housing and destroying buildings unfit for habitation. I don’t know what you think when seeing the word squalor, but the word only begins to describe living conditions. The board of directors voted to fund the projects and to provide ways to improve their worker’s lives using Lumsden’s list:

  1. Technical education for the younger generation.
  2. Popular lectures of educational value.
  3. Program of athletics and exercise.
  4. Literature encouraging hygiene and prevention of disease.
  5. Courses in cooking
  6. Education regarding the feeding of infants
  7. Recreational opportunities: Concerts and socials.
  8. Opportunities for management and laborers to meet and socialize
  9. Housing

Cadbury found the same conditions in his English city. His business increased so that he had to find another building and expanded land. He went outside the city and built villages. He solved the housing problem by building homes for his 2700 workers. Cadbury built new communities. Lumsden visited the Cadbury villages and suggested Guinness move to the suburbs. The board chose to rebuild the city of Dublin.

These men responded to what they heard as the call of God. They, the individuals and the company directors, sought God for strategies. An old question has taken on a laser-focus and an urgent desire to seek God—Where do I fit in solving the pressing issues of my generation? How do I find God’s will and plan? An acquaintance who works with CRU—Crusade for Christ—told us about a conversation she had with a Muslim about injustice. Two world views. One has God standing on the sidelines and in the other He is the prime doer. I hear God responding to the prayer of Arthur Guinness—“God do something,” with, “Let’s do something, and this is what you can do. Start here:”

After months of thinking, studying and some anguished praying, I adapted a seeking process developed by Dr. Mark Virkler:


Quiet the voices in your head. Quiet your body—sit in a comfortable chair with both feet on the floor and your spine straight. Invite Jesus to join you. Turn off all the noise makers. Where is that place? At your kitchen table? On a lake shore? If you can’t physically go to those relaxing places, imagine yourself there. A mountain cabin? I am comfortable in a quiet back booth of a café or coffee shop.


This works in several prayer settings. I put my family, ministry-life tribe and intercession lists in front of me. I ask at each name, “What should I know about this person’s life today? Jesus, how are you praying for them today? Is there something specific I should pray about?

Speaking of the Cadbury Bunny—which are Flemish Giants in the advertising—we have had a couple of flop-eared rabbits and a Persian bunny. We have had guard bunnies. Our family has had the experience of the bunny standing in front of us and thumping on the floor to warn us of danger. I’m not making this up. In asking about friends and family, it is not uncommon for the Holy Spirit to alert me. I don’t always know specifics, but I know the alert is real. I frequently hear from people who tell me of a need and I can honestly tell them that I have already prayed. The Holy Thumper was at work.

As I consider the needs in the news or needs in my friends’ lives, I ask, “Where do you want me to fit into this? What strategy is wise for me to pursue in these situations?” How am I to build my platform to expand my business to the ones who will benefit most?

I pray most for knowledge of God’s point of view and strategies, solutions and next steps. Something like, “What is your alternative view of the future that you want me to fit into?” or “What do you want me to do about…?” “How am I to pray miraculous healing for…?” “Where do I invest my energy and time to sow so that I may reap this benefit?”


Virkler says to ask and then listen for the first words that come to mind. He teaches that God speaks to us through spontaneous thoughts. You ask and God answers—what an idea! Using Paul’s words to the Ephesians in Ephesians one, “Open the eyes of my heart.” Listen not only to the words, but listen to the visions or images. What does God show you? The road to sober has visions of people and habits and probably places.

In this listening mode, think of the person or the niche of customers you are asking God how to serve. Listen to their hearts—empathy—what do they need to make their lives better? This is what Dr. Lumsden did in Dublin—he listened to what would make their lives work or live-able. It is said of Steve Jobs that “…he had the ability to stand in a potential user’s shoes and understand the impact that an innovation and its design might have on that person’s life.”


Using the instructions in Habakkuk, write what you hear. Virkler calls this two-way journaling. You write what you say to God and then what you think you hear from Him. There is an official term for this taught in writer’s seminars: shitty first draft. No kidding. Get it on paper. Don’t worry about spelling or correctness. Get it into your journal. Some use their word processor. Whatever works for you. Go back the next day or when you pray next and read what you heard. Correct and tidy up if you must. Ask, does it hold up? You will benefit having a spiritual director or close friends who can guide you in interpreting what you have “heard.” The more drastic the instruction, the more needful the counsel.

“…and you shall find me when you seek me with your whole heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

©2016  D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer



Twitter:       @DeanBenton




Why Beer has my attention

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all other things will be added” (Matthew 6:33—NIV).

“Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things you could never figure out on your own” (Jeremiah 33:3—Message).

“Seeking God” is a central act in the First Testament and Second. Seeking God is not the act of trying to find a hiding God. It is seeking to know what He thinks about something—His will, plan, guidance, wisdom, knowledge I should know—concerning a specific issue. When Paul tells the Thessalonians to “tell God every detail of your life,” I assume that means to consult God concerning everything.

How do you seek God?

I am captivated by Stephen Mansfield’s biography of “The beer that changed the world.” (The Search for God and Guinness, Thomas Nelson, 2009). I am impacted (searching for the exact word) by one line in the middle of the book.

“This would prove to be one of the most brilliant marketing decisions the company ever made.”

That “brilliant marketing decision” was to change the company logo. I hold in my hand a bottle of Guinness beer. It says it was brewed in Ireland, has Arthur Guinness’ signature and a harp. The decision to place the harp on each bottle changed the market region from within a day’s ride from Dublin to an international market.

There is no story of a prayer meeting as Arthur Guinness the Second “sought God” about expanding markets. Mansfield includes this line about Guinness Jr.

“Typically, he took counsel, planned and then executed.”

There is a myth about the founder of the company walking the streets of Dublin broken by the drunkenness that was destroying the nation, families, marriages, lives. Guinness pleaded with God to do something about that drunkenness. God’s fabled response was—“You do something about it,” and the brewer was given specific instructions.

The second most brilliant decision was the choice to advertise and then to add humor to the ads that were dispensed in serial form. The toucan ad was among the first and the poem was written by Dorothy Sayers—the great author.

I do not drink beer. My mother did not drink beer, but many of my closest friends did as did their parents. To excess. I saw the damage done and it made beer something for me to avoid. My interest in Guinness is driven by how that family viewed beer as an alternative to gin and whiskey and the available drinking water which could be lethal. Beyond that, I am gripped by the horrible living conditions and the poverty in which families lived during the early days of the industrial revolution. I was horrified when I read about the living conditions to the point I put the book down, walked around the house moaning.

Primarily, I am driven by what the Guinness Company did to change every aspect of society beginning with absolute care for their employees and worker’s families.

“…the second Arthur Guinness was a man of deep faith. His father’s unswerving piety took root in his soul, where it merged with an evangelical fire.” (page 87)

That Guinness sought the “kingdom of God and His righteousness” seems to be a given. I would like to know the mechanics. Seeking God’s counsel must have been interwoven with, but not limited to, his taking counsel from his family and the Guinness Company board of directors.

“There is always one moment…when the door opens and lets the future in.” Graham Greene.

Given who I am–how I’m wired, my experiences good and bad, my faith—how can I create value for others? Given my history, it probably will not include a microbrewery. I’ve settled on a process to seek God which I will suggest to you tomorrow.

©2016  D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer


Twitter:       @DeanBenton




What Do You Feel, Today?

We have four coffee shops in town and several pastry shops that sell the option of one flavored coffee, but no mocha, ect. We also have convenience stores with an array of types and flavors. Their mocha and latte come from powders and not brewing. Readers of my book Gone to Southwood are introduced to a café owner who will not dispense her coffee in a take-out cup. I met such a restauranteur in southern Mississippi. Her coffee is to be enjoyed, not used as a fix for an addiction.

A coffee shop must have tables and ambiance. Unless I want a latte or mocha, I prefer my own blends at home. One of my shops has lost its feel or ambiance. The coffee is house roasted and brewed and not limited to one refill. But I seldom go there anymore. We now have two Starbucks. One is in Target and I have seldom gone there except on sale days because it is primarily a take-out place. It has never felt like a coffee shop to me. Since “community” is a prime value for Starbucks, the take-out element is a big contradiction for me. There is a drive-thru coffee hut at the mall. Their variety and taste is excellent. I can go there in the summer when I can sit in the car otherwise, McDonalds works.

I went to the new shop. I stood in the entrance and looked around. The employees got nervous when I lifted my hands to test the air for ambiance. It has potential. I don’t like the taste of Starbucks, but I might go back because of the one element—what I feel when there.

I have given this a lot of thought for a reason. I’m concluding that I prefer a coffee shop that is not shiny. Something like a New England inn or a pub or South Carolina porch with real cups if I choose. It is complicated and it has only secondarily to do with coffee. I go to coffee shops to read, think and pray. It is beneficial if the coffee is good.

Bernadette Jiwa (Difference, 2014) reminds me of an old marketing rule that has new power:

“(We) fall in love with how ideas, products, services and places make us feel.”

And therefore, join, buy, agree with, support, follow and tell others about.

Studies of the current election cycle say that people are willing to “take a chance” and set aside some of their core values and important preferences and vote differently this time because of what the outliers make them feel, such as pleasure that someone is going to blow up Washington and really use the broom this time. Unless you understand that feeling element you will be confused by people voting in the primary for one candidate and then say in exit polls that another candidate better exemplifies their values or one of the other candidates would do better in foreign policy than the one they voted for.

I am currently writing three novels about the fictional antebellum mansion that is the centerpiece of my book Gone To Southwood. That will make 7 books in the Southwood series. My marketing challenge is to help people feel attached to that land, buildings, ministries, and characters—to help them love the land, ministries and the people who visit and work there. I know if you feel about that land, the buildings, the ministries and characters like I feel you will want to read every Southwood book. But to do that, something has to connect with something that matters to you—not just to me. “Let him who has ears, hear.”

These are a couple of the things occupying space in my brain today. All quotes from Bernadette Jiwa:

“Building a product or experience where return on investment is measured by delight.”

“There are a heck of lot of people who care that chicken in their curry was happy before it died.”

“People are telling us what they care about. It’s their journey, their story, the meaning they want to create in their lives.”

©2016  D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer



Twitter:       @DeanBenton