Monthly Archives: October 2017

Cobwebs

Listening to Carlos Whittaker on a podcast while on the treadmill, which is next to a window at eye level. I listen to podcasts intently and look blankly out the window.

Carlos told of going to a 7-day therapy camp. His therapist had suggested it, but Carlos didn’t know the purpose—he thought he was moving forward. He called his dad on the way to the camp and reluctantly told him where he was going. Finally, his dad told Carlos a story about preaching a revival. He invited people who needed prayer to come to the altar. A lady came forward for prayer. “Will you pray God will clean the cobwebs from my life?” Whittaker Senior was stimulated by the phrase and used it as he prayed. The next night the woman came to the altar again to ask “Will you pray God will clean the cobwebs from my life?” Mr. Whitaker was a bit surprised by the exact request but prayed the prayer of cleansing. The third night of the revival the same woman asked the same thing. “Will you pray God will clean the cobwebs from my life?”
“No, I won’t. Tonight I am going to pray to kill the spider!”

The father said “Carlos, you’ve been an excellent example of cleaning the cobwebs from your life. This is your opportunity to kill the spider.”

Carlos talked about looking past “webs” and dealing with the source. “The Holy Spirit will come and snatch that spider—remove the cause.”

I was lost in the story. I was vaguely aware there was a large spider on the windowscreen. I was concentrating on the story and the blankness out on the lawn. Suddenly a bright red Cardinal swooped in, grabbed the spider, and was gone. I’ve never seen that happen before. I didn’t even know that cardinals ate spiders.

With the appearance of that bright red bird, an already fantastic story became very personal. Hardly coincidental. God has something to talk to me about and an invitation to deal with spiders.

©2017 D. Dean Benton Dean@DeanBenton.org

Carlos Whittaker has a new book “Kill The Spider.” He also does the audio book reading—and he does it well. His podcast is terrific. If you want to follow up, check out his website for links.

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Last Time I Visited First Grade

This was first posted when our college freshman granddaughter was in first grade.

Carole worked as a teacher’s aide some years ago. Our daughter has picked up the mantle. One of the true high points of my life was the weekly lunch dates at school when I ate with Carole and her class. They would ask, “Mrs. Benton is your Daddy coming to eat lunch today?”

First grade granddaughter invited me to eat lunch with her. I went early to visit her classroom. We have become acquainted with her teacher for whom we pray and like a lot. We have gotten to know some of the kids thru Hannah’s reports of who got into trouble and which kid cried and which one was sick. Hannah is a missionary to first grade. I’ve watched her encourage a kid on the playground, and I’ve seen her put her hand on the shoulder of a little girl who was crying for her mom. The morning drive to school includes blessing of each other. (I blessed Hannah today: “I bless you with a day without wedgies.” That appears to be a universal first grade concern. She blessed me with a day without offensive coffee breath.) It also includes praying for specific kids in her class who struggle, hurt or are in constant trouble.

Carole and Debi have kid magnets under their skin. They attract first graders. I watched as boys and girls rushed to hug Carole. What surprised me was the kids who got lost and found themselves coming to me to ask my name and to tell me life stories. A couple of them hugged me. I came away a little shaken by the raw, open need and how much a bit of attention will pay. A girl said to me, “You’re nice.” I was self-conscious about that. Where’d she get that idea and why hasn’t she told some of the adults in my world?

Carole says that Levi always hugs her. I watched as several of the kids hugged her. I didn’t need a spiritual gift of discernment to see that she was a safe place for them and invested something in them that they weren’t getting anyplace else.

I could never make it through first grade. All the rules!! So many rules! If you can successfully negotiate first grade, you’ve got it made.

We’ve been evaluating Hannah’s voice and reminding her to use her “indoor voice.” I decided the other day that Hannah’s voice has the texture of a kidney stone. It can cut through a diamond. Now I know why. We had a terrific lunch. I failed first grade lunch line. Only with the help of two adults and two kind first graders did I make it to the table with the hamburger, sack of carrots, a carton of white milk and a cookie. That’s when I learned rules about eating lunch. The noise level in the cafeteria will cause ear damage. Hannah instructed me about tray clearing and struck terror in me as I contemplated what would happen if I put the paper refuse in the wrong bin. Two rules especially seem to be most important. First, you can’t scream at kids at the next table. That seemed unlikely since communicating with people at our own table demanded screaming. The second important rule was that throwing hamburger buns at the next table was also not allowed. It was at the point of instruction that the wheels started to come off. Hannah was so serious and punishment so palpable, I allowed my smile to break into a chuckle which got totally out of control. Then Carole caught the giggle bug. There are no rules about laughing at lunch. We would have been busted for sure.

This is not my first trip to the lunchroom. Each time, I want to thank the lunch ladies for speaking each kid’s name and treating them with affection and dignity. Parents who never visit classrooms or eat lunch with the first graders haven’t a clue the investment the teachers make in their kids. (Hannah’s teacher spends her own money to buy school supplies. Who would guess that?) The noise I can live without, but two events made me glad to be alive: The laughter and Joseph. Joseph wears a left ear ring, dirty shirt and likes martial arts. He followed me thru the lunch line and asked if he could sit with me. He must have thought I needed the special attention.

Oh God! Be with the Josephs and Levis today. And fortify the teachers. All of them. Every grade.

Copyright 2017 D. Dean Benton Dean@DeanBenton.org

Want Fries with your Hemlock Sandwich?

Trying to take seriously the 4-principle test for communication: True? Kind? Necessary? Clear? Something in the Ethernet world grinds on me about the “Sandwich” Test. I’ll try—true, kind, necessary, clear.

A young Australian wife/mother asked her closed Facebook network (26,000) what they put in their husbands brown bag lunch. She was charged with—“Making a sandwich for your husband is a crime against feminism” and setting feminism back several decades. She was labeled as “a slave and a 1950s housewife.” The daughter of a professional feminist (article author’s phrase) said and published upon finding she was pregnant with a boy: “I felt sick at the thought of something male growing inside of me.”

The spirit of the replies is captured by this: “I was married for 20 years and my favourite packed lunch for my husband was called ‘Get it yourself’ with a side order of ‘I’m not your mother.’”

I can’t quite get a handle on what has been set loose in me by this. Let me be straight with you. I never ask my wife to make me a sandwich. The truth is I love it when she does because she makes a much better sandwich that I do. She adds garnish and care. It is not about bread and baloney; it expresses appreciation and concern for my well-being. My step-mother won my heart with the care she put into peanut butter sandwiches she made for me. Carole’s sandwiches just taste better. Her observation may say it all: “Obviously, these women have not yet met a man for whom she wants to offer the best….”

If feminism rests on the legal scales of a sandwich, the sandwich is a non-issue. It is about hatred for men and the desire that men be erased from the earth. If this defines feminism, then burn your membership card. It marginalizes feminism and makes it an example of worst stereotype.

There is a slice of meanness in me that wants to declare, If wife or any female would say the nasty things about me and sandwiches, I would pack my jar of Skippy peanut butter and sourdough bread in my briefcase and leave the building.

Andy Stanley preached this weekend about “Women submit…husbands love…” from Ephesians 5. Both admonishments were as subversive and counter-culture as anything in the First Century world. Stanley says we are challenged to “Rush to the back of the line.” Not everyone is required to seek to serve each other, just followers of Jesus and those who desire to maintain a great marriage.

While studying Abraham and his women—Sarah and Hagar—I have understood why Sarah might say, “Fix your own falafel” There are boorish men who earn the kind of contempt that the women above might revert to. What I’m reading in this 21st Century Sandwich hostility is contempt and hatred for all males. That does not end well historically for anyone—for individuals, cultures and nations.

Please allow me: Guys, if you want female fingerprints on your sandwich, go to the pantry several times over the next fifteen minutes. Look around—360—up and down and make a low moan/whimper, then leave the pantry with a loud sign. A loving wife will become concerned and will say, “Can I make you a sandwich?” If that doesn’t work, go to Arby’s.

©2017 D. Dean Benton Dean@Deanbenton.org

Calming Quivering Nerve Endings

Dr. Mark Chironna posted today:

“Cycles of history indeed do repeat themselves, and we are in one of those cycles. The current crisis in our society is usually an indication of a culture in collapse.”

He repeats what I’ve read from several historians. One historian lists five societal behaviors of the Roman Empire as it collapsed. Western culture presently matches all five. Chironna quotes 1 Chronicles 12:32:

“Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. Two hundred chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.”

Issachar has always been one of my heroes. He exhibited the tribe I wanted to be voted into. It is not enough to be a person who understands the times. We need people around us who also know what to do.

Needed: men and women who understand the times and know what to do.

Writer and political journalist (and Jesus follower) Kirsten Powers wrote a few days ago in the Washington Post that the words “thoughts and prayers” are sounding profane. Others expanded on her words to say we don’t need “thoughts and prayers,” we need action.

If we are “in the world, but not of the world,” some of us should have the Issachar spirit and gifting. Among the liberal and conservative ideas, solutions, strategies and call to “action” a Kingdom strategy should be seen and heard above the politics and agendas. A prophetic call is always a better idea than the status quo. It speaks of healing, forgiveness and a way forward.

Stephen Mansfield today issued a prophetic word about the gun issues.

“Fix the problem from within, or it’s going to get fixed for you from the outside.”

He added, “And you probably won’t like it!”

Hurricanes, earthquakes, wars, rumors of wars and a laundry list of cultural battles. And we can name every one of them. Harvey, Maria, NFL, “Knee,” and now Vegas and another storm heading for the Gulf Coast on the weekend. The heart-gripping trauma du jour. “What next?!”
Not having any control and the anxiety that one of these times the target is going to be on our backs, we face a question:

How do I shepherd my heart through this?

For forty years I pushed Inter-generational Sunday school & small groups. My family has pointed to that experiment as their best Sunday School experience. Granddaughter Hannah, now in college, is involved in an Inter-generational Sunday gathering and vocalizes what I knew was possible.

“How do we shepherd our hearts?”
1. Involvement in inter-generational, inter-racial, inter-culture gatherings.
2. Use of porches and decks and tables to talk, listen and share pain and dreams.
3. Personal quiet places to pray, think, listen to God’s ideas and views.
4. Discipline about amounts of news intake.
5. Plans for positive soul-sculpting—reading or audio books, positive music and a spiritual director.
6. Don’t call people names. Nancy Sinatra says that all members of the NRA should face firing squads. It is easier to call for the assassination of people who have never sat at your table or with whom you have not sought to understand. “Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.” (Stephen R. Covey)

What has worked in the past? What works for your maturing friends? Try it.
Not an exhaustive list. It is a call to Soul Tending

THE BENTON TABLE
come put your feet under our table.
©2017 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org