Monthly Archives: August 2017

Listen, Harvey!

We were moving to Denver, Colorado our daughter was a baby. We got to western Iowa and the car broke down in a town where there was no motel which meant we bunked in the mechanic’s living room. The Methodist Church was hosting a revival meeting that week which I attended. The pastor listened to my story and told me his.

The last time they had a revival meeting, an evangelist was stranded in their town—just like us. During the singing time, one of the church members asked for prayer. The region was in a drought. The farmer said they should pray for rain. That congregation was not in the habit of praying that specifically, so the preacher said or something like “We’ll keep that in our prayers,” and moved forward in the service. A little later, the “stranded” evangelist stood and acknowledged he was a stranger and had no authority, but he said he felt they should honor the farmer’s request and pray for rain. So, they asked him to pray which he did. And it began to rain.

I asked the pastor if he could remember the stranded preacher’s name. He did. I knew that stranded preacher! He was a big guy, with a gentle manner and a Pentecostal faith. After a bit more conversation, I realized it was odd that the name was so easily remembered so I asked how the pastor remembered.

“Huh! There’s more to the story. I told you it started to rain. Well, it didn’t quit! Days and days it rained. Everyone it town knew the story that a stranger had come into town, prayed for rain at the revival meeting. A village meeting was called. We began to search for that evangelist.” The statement was more forceful: “We gotta find that preacher and tell him to get the rain stopped!” I don’t remember how they found him, but his name became emblazoned on the pastor’s mind. “We finally found that preacher and asked to pray to turn off the rain. He prayed. And it stopped!”

I’ve been asking God how we are to pray for the people of Texas. That story came to mind. I don’t know if it was an answer to my prayer or just that it linked to the file in my brain marked, “Rain Stories.”

Jesus told the winds to be quiet. He told the rain to stop. He spoke to the storm. This was my take away from my conversation with God. The problem Texas and Louisiana face is not the rain as much as a stalled storm. So we are to speak to the storm to move back out over the Gulf. There is a principle that anything that has a name can be addressed and it must bow to Christ. How convenient that this storm has an official name!

Unless someone has a better idea, I’m going to call the storm by name and in the name of Jesus and all the work of the Cross and Resurrection and tell it to go out over the Gulf. Will you join me?

“Harvey—turn around and dump the water into the Gulf, in the Name and power of Jesus.”

©2017 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

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More not Fewer

This is what I know. I may not have it exact. Some of my love for the old south is based on fiction and a longing for a genteel civility. The view of reality is different through the writing of Margaret Mitchell than Rick Bragg. I don’t know where to place Harper Lee. The stories told by each of us depend upon the atmosphere we lived in and customs we breathed. I am not ignorant nor naïve. I have heard and read the stories by Vernon Jordan of his own lawyering experiences on behalf of Blacks as late as the 50s and 60s. His stories are sobering! They can shut me down.

Of the military people I have read and heard about, I think I would like most of all to have Robert E. Lee and his wife to sit on my porch.

Headlines are that Governor of Virginia is going to “pursue removing the Lee statue from Monument Avenue in Richmond.” Excuse me? Monument Avenue? A street lined with statues of people who influenced the state of Virginia or factored in her history? I thought the Lee statue was going to be removed from the entrance to the state capital building or similar place. I thought it would serve all of the local folks to place it in an appropriate park. Monument Avenue seems the exact appropriate place it should stand. Monument Ave which has a statue of Tiger Woods. Does the statue of Woods endorse his immorality, drug use and life-choices? Of course not.

Lincoln had asked Lee to head up the Union Armies, but his home state needed him. Robert E. Lee was superintendent of West Point. Virginia—his home—needed him. He was against secession and identified himself as the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

President Lincoln’s words, attitude and actions toward Lee and the soldiers of the Confederacy at the war’s end were forgiveness, pardon, redemption and reconciliation. Perhaps we should take our cue from President Lincoln.

After the war Robert E. Lee committed himself to providing educational opportunities for young Blacks, He was president of Washington & Lee College. Washington being President George and Lee being Robert E..

I read an article that asked why the Lees had/have a home on government property named Arlington. The grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. The author apparently didn’t know that Arlington was the name of land owned by the family of Mrs. Lee (great-granddaughter of Martha Washington) The Arlington House is where the Lee family lived before the war and then deeded it to the USA for use.

The missing rational factor of the past couple of years is redemption. Is there redemption? Can lives be changed? Can people change? Ask Jesus. I want to know what the generals did after the war. It is called grace on purpose.

There is a current line of thinking that we need more statues, not less. I’ve been reading (slowly) a biography of Booker T. Washington who was born with a mother praying over him asking God to help Mr. Lincoln to bring freedom for her son as she cooked meals for her “owner.” Booker T. Washington’s view of his race drew the anger of many contemporaries. He saw his people being and doing what God chose Israel to do. They would be a “chosen people, a royal priesthood….” He went to Tuskegee to teach the “mechanics of living,” and how to be the people God could use. And! How they whom he called Negroes, could prosper.

I wonder if this is where the Seven Mountain Mandate and the spirit of Tuskegee intersect. That is what Oral Roberts had in mind when he built the university. To develop people who will touch the country and the world and their image will find its place onto Monument Avenue.
Thank you for listening. I’m just trying to figure this out.

More statues to celebrate lives well lived and invested.

©2017 D. Dean Benton—dean@deanbenton.org—–Just wondering

Statues. A Series-1

Burlington, Iowa has several statues, canons and an old military jet scattered around in parks. We even have statues of Mary in front of Catholic Churches. I’m sure there are shrines and museums I know nothing about. One of the attractions is a statue of Black Hawk the Indian chief whose name dominates our region.

John C. Corse served under several generals. His bravery was well-known. He was wounded at Missionary Ridge and then fulfilled General Sherman’s order to hold Allatoona pass where he lost one-third of his men and one-third of an ear. Coarse said,

I am short a cheek-bone and an ear, but am able to whip all hell yet.

John M. Corse made this peculiar boast after sustaining a head wound at the Battle of Allatoona in 1864. While bleeding, he received a message from General Sherman saying, “Hold on, I am coming.” That statement was amended by newspaper writers to “Hold the fort, for I am coming” which became a classic folk song and then a hymn. It was in some of the church song books I sang from.

1. Ho, my comrades, see the signal, waving in the sky!
Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.
o Refrain:
“Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to Heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”
2. See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on;
Mighty ones around us falling, courage almost gone!
3. See the glorious banner waving! Hear the trumpet blow!
In our Leader’s Name we triumph over every foe.
4. Fierce and long the battle rages, but our help is near;
Onward comes our great Commander, cheer, my comrades, cheer!
(1870) Phillip P. Bliss,

Not only does the John M Corse statue stand proudly in Crapo (long “A) Park, but there is a street named after him about three blocks from our house. There is a bridge in Iowa City named for him and a grade school here in Burlington.

Allatoona is north of Atlanta in the vicinity of Cartersville, Georgia. We have driven past Cartersville on I-75 and stayed a night or two there. You ever wonder if the battle of Altoona in which Corse was a major figure, touched the families of Confederate soldiers? Did a daddy or brother come home alive but minus a leg? Any ancestors not come home?

John Corse became a lawyer, was selected as Lieutenant Governor of Iowa after the war. He moved east and died at age 58 when his body was shipped back to Burlington. The people who lost loved ones on that battle ground don’t know about his life after the war, all they know is that he was one of the commanders who ordered gunfire that killed their loved one.

I have no hard numbers, but I’m guessing at least 70% of our population doesn’t know the story of John Corse, and probably 20% more don’t know there is a statue or who the statue is as they drive through Crapo Park.

I have considered my response if those folks from South Georgia should come to our town to take Mr. Corse’s statue down. I have wondered if Corse school will be unscathed by the current purge of treacherous statues.

I wonder if Ernie Banks’ statue in front of Wrigley Field will survive.

Am I no longer thinking straight? Do people fear that some dark night those statues are going to organize and mobilize and start driving trucks on sidewalks?

Everyone sing. Verse 4.

©2017 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Bee-Jeebers or worse

John Eldredge’s book Walking with God (Thomas Nelson 2008) is my current devotional reading. The format is similar to entries in a journal. Let me share:

“A few years ago a woman with a sensitive spirit and a keen eye for what God is up to pulled me aside to offer this warning: ‘The battle in your life is against your joy.’

“It hit me like a Mack truck.

“But of course. Suddenly life made sense. The hassles. The battles. The disappointments. The losses. The resignation. I began to see how the enemy was first trying to take away all the joy from my life. Wear me down. Then, weary and thirsty, I would be quite vulnerable to some counterfeit joy.” P 37

Listen to what Jesus says about your joy:

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11),
“Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24).
“…so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them” (John 17:13).

Wow! Jesus is using extravagant words to describe the joy He wants us to have.

I’m glad I wore a button-up shirt today. We’ve been having a problem with hornets and wasps. Our neighbor chased off a herd of hornets and they moved into our yard. Carole and her sisters were chased out the garage by a hornet. They estimated its size as somewhere between a sparrow and pigeon.

We came in from working in the yard. I was pouring an iced coffee when I felt something moving the back of my shirt. I looked in the mirror—nothing there. The fluttering continued. I concluded the pigeon-sized bee was inside my shirt. As I shed the shirt, I was glad for buttons and that I didn’t have to pull the shirt over my head. Inside my shirt was a green cicada. I have never looked full into the face of a cicada. Those critters are ugly and look menacing. Inside my shirt, creeping on my body! It stared at me. It didn’t make a sound, but my vocal shuddering set off the smoke alarm. I can feel an attack of PTSD coming on!
Okay, so I exaggerate.

Having the bee-jeebers scared out of you won’t steal your joy, but a chronic ache can. We met a family who returned from vacation to find their house had been invaded by raccoons or squirrels. An extended family of squirrels can not only extensively mess up a house, but implant a spirit of hopelessness deep in one’s mind.

Feeling trapped leads to hopelessness and the impossibility of life ever being better. That can lead to an abiding habit of seeing self as unworthy which will shut down confidence that God will ever speak to you. That will eat at faith, hope, love, and joy as if it were unsolidified grape Jell-O.
An infestation of fleas may be caused by someone’s neglect or carelessness, but satan has a plan. Satan will try to use such torment to steal your joy, confidence, vision and hijack God’s plan for you. Recognize it and go to spirit war.

©2017 D. Dean Benton Dean@DeanBenton.org

Cutting the Cable

Cutting the cable was a great idea. We were paying for 7000 TV channels and watching about 3. We would follow the example of those who lived on their phone. So the deed was done. After we bought and tried four different antennas, we found that we were 15 miles beyond over the air TV channels. But we could get 4 channels! Channels airing programs we didn’t watch in the 70s nor would we watch today lest they corrode our brains with unfunny silliness.

We upgraded a laptop to equip us to stream our favorite channels. The news networks broadcast news a day old. For reasons beyond my tech ability, we could never connect with most of the news that promised we could watch 24/7 free. Our favorite preachers faced a different problem. The buffering was so frequent it took 1:45 hours to broadcast a 30-minute sermon.

And then there is the phone. We live in what was many years ago called “the bottoms.” That means we live at the bottom of the surrounding hills. The cell towers in our area are all owned by US Cell. Our provider buys space from Verizon. The price is great. The service at our house is virtually non-existent. US Cell uses the best parts of the tower for their customers and then sells what is left over to Verizon and other carriers. When we found we could not call each other from across the coffee table, I purchased a Verizon amplifier which was to strengthen the signal. $200 carried no guarantees and no returns. It did help for a while, but then as if someone turned a switch we were without phone service. When I asked for suggestions, our tech asked if we could go to the top of the hill to make our calls.

I was bothered by a question: what will we do if there is an emergency? How do we call 911? I’ll drive up the hill in my boxers in the middle of the night? Didn’t sound like a workable solution. So we reconnected the cable.

I figure we would be $300 ahead had we not decided to save money.

Getting our old number of 30 years back and imported to the company that had used it for 20 years became an international job. We exhumed the body of Ma Bell. Mrs. Bell or one of her successors had retired our number—like they do baseball jerseys—deactivated it and sent it the burial grounds in some warehouse in Guam. So we were back to hanging out the upstairs window to fully utilize the one tower on our cell phones. The phones worked well everywhere, except receiving calls or sending calls at our house—which removed us from communication with the outside world.

For five weeks I talked to techs on five continents and languages I could not understand—all of whom were gracious and wanted to help—but in spite of being assigned the number and receiving bills for the service, the old number would not ring into our house. The temp number would.

We now have reduced the number of TV channels to about 800 and can get the 3-4 channels we watch plus subscriptions to Hulu, Roku and Amazon. I’m sure I’ve missed others with at least one that we cannot get rid of.

It is with exhausted pleasure I announce that our landline is fully operational as of this morning. The number is….

319-754-6941

Call me. I’m lonely.
Dean