Monthly Archives: November 2018

An Eagle’s Point of View

“Why be an eagle that won’t spread its wings?”

(Gloria Gaither)

That lyric has been glued to my brain and itching itself into my thinking. Eagles are the creature most quoted in songs, and preachers/teachers vigilantly remind us that we are eagles. Raises questions.

John Eldredge writes and speaks on the need for boys to adventure and to have fathers who shepherd them in that adventuring. If a boy does not learn to adventure, as a man he may find risking difficult. If adventure is not shepherded, the maturing young man may risk foolishly.

I have just finished reading Unified by Trey Gowdy and Tim Scott. (2018 Tyndale) This account of two men serving South Carolina constituents in the Senate and House—Scott, a Black man and Gowdy, a White man, took me into a fairly unknown landscape. A unique kind of friendship. There were times, as I read and considered, when I found my breathing very shallow. They are both Baptists and born again believers and their worldview is informed more by following Jesus than their political positions. It is from what they have seen and learned in Washington, D.C. that underscored their conclusions:

“We will change the nation only by changing the condition of the human heart. And that can only happen through love. True friendship is born out of acceptance and unconditional love—a love that is consistent and intentional.” (page 28)

Gowdy says about the difficult days of the Benghazi hearings,

“Far greater than any piece of advice Tim could have offered was the sacred gift of presence and his friendship…. To provide a sanctuary or a safe harbor to a friend in need is the greatest gift you can give.” (p 78)

If I quoted every sentence and paragraph that gripped me, this would cease to a blog and a reprint of Unified.

“Let’s see if we can fix it. Let’s see if we can build a justice system that is fully respected and fully worthy of respect. Let’s see if we can move toward that simple dichotomy between people who are of good conscience and people who aren’t” (Trey Gowdy—p 139)

I consulted with a church over a two-year period. They wanted a solution to their decline. Someone I was reading at the time said about the chaos and division in our country that the Church was probably the only source of solution and healing. That phrase seemed to be the one critical element in the equation.

I don’t know if it came in a dream or a wide-awake awareness. I saw that church’s new building spread across two blocks in response to the “solutions and healings.” Whenever we are in that city, I “see” that image. I envisioned them hosting four churches. Each with its own pastor and worship time. A Korean or Chinese church, an African-American church, a “contemporary” church. With the regular individual weekly gatherings, all four would gather for celebration once a month. A monthly meal together and small groups combining folks from the 4 churches. This meta-church would give us a platform to get to know people and become friends with Jesus Followers and Seekers beyond our tribe and travel routes. We would hear life-experiences thereby come to understand actions and attitudes and emotions that bewilder us.

Carole and I agree that we miss hummingbirds and wish them well as they make their southern tour. Outside our window this morning were five male cardinals and three females. Two pair of blue jays, a mourning dove, red-headed woodpecker and an assortment of colors and sizes, plus several dozen sparrows.

Eagles never accept our invitation. Turkey vultures drop in occasionally. We are half-a-mile from the river where the eagles hang out. I’ve never been able to coax an eagle to join me on the parking next to the river. But all I need to gather a crowd of seagulls is a crust of old bread.

I am not an ornithologist or a serious bird watcher, but Miss Gloria captured my soul with the line, “Why be an eagle that won’t spread its wings.” What are eagles best known for? Spreading their wings and soaring majestically.

It is difficult to spread your wings if they are broken or confined.

©2018 D. Dean Benton

writer, wonderer, witness


Guiding Umbrellas

We’ve been to Thanksgiving 2018. It’s good. Ten around our table for food and conversation. The food got cold, but the conversation was warm. Three hours of talk, laughter and contemplation. I carried away about 4 new pounds and a ton of inspiration and instruction.

Two of my teachers and models, Donald Miller and Andy Stanley, sat at a studio table for podcast conversation. Miller interviewed Andy and then Andy interviewed Miller for his podcast.

Miller and Stanley’s podcasts are about leadership, but they are much broader and this one for sure.

Donald Miller tells about leaving Nashville after a heated discussion with his fiancé to lead a conference in Oregon. During his prep time before the conference he determined the umbrella guiding purpose of their marriage was to be restorative. When his wife came home from work, his assignment was to be an agent of restoration—a facilitator of what she needed to be restored.

They have no children. They are now building a home with 18 beds to house people who need to be restored.

You may want to engage the entire podcast: Donald Miller Building A Story Brand Podcast 123

Type into the search engine. It will open to podcast page. Number five of options is this podcast. Click on that and you’re in.

How about building a franchise of restorative houses? A meta-approach to church.

With fork and journal in hand.

©2018 D. Dean Benton

The Spirit Told Me

My book Meandering is about hearing the voice of God. Dr. Mark Chironna has been instrumental in our faith journey so his following words felt brutal to me. Of course they are true:


“Far too much is ascribed to “the Spirit told me” when subjective inner impressions are loaded with unmet needs that drive those who make such claims. Failure to discern psychological denial , self-deception, and disassociation make room for tons of false ‘leadings'”.

1 Kings 19:11-13 fascinates me.

11Then the LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD. Behold, the LORD is about to pass by.” And a great and mighty wind tore into the mountains and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a still, small voice. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”…

So many people try to make a case that only the “still small voice” is God’s tone and method of communication. I’ve learned God has an outdoor voice and He is not afraid to use it. This passage is an encounter between God and Elijah. I question whether it is to be generalized to all.

“Oh, that’s not God!”

To settle on the limited vocabulary and communication gifts puts us in a terrible bind. Usually when I need to hear from God, there are many loud voices screaming at me. A “whisper” can get decibled into oblivion. God has used His outdoor voice to capture my attention so He could whisper something personal into my spirit.

There has to be one more step, a skill to determine if what I’m hearing through the filter of self-deception, disassociation, and psychological or I will dismiss every inner impression with a blast—”Oh that’s not God!”

Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice….” God wants, desires and longs to talk to His people. That understanding and listening skill is more important than still small whisperings. After being confronted with the self-deception traits, unless I have tools to determine how to discern those traits I will ignore the voice of God: Oh, that’s not God. It is just my deluded and bent self.

“Lord, could you speak up. I missed your words.”

“The Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I’m about to do?'” (Genesis 18)

A couple of months ago, a tow truck deposited a GMC 4106 bus across the street from our house. It was so close to the vision I had about the bus God was going to provide our ministry. The bus showing up on our street was like a tornado alert. It is still there. There is no For Sale sign on it. It is just there. For weeks it tormented me. It led me through that long ago process when I tried to figure out who I was really hearing. It sits there and I wonder what inner impressions were loaded with unmet needs, what undiscerned psychological denial, self-deception, and disassociation made room for my mishearing.

When God’s voice becomes discounted, we tend to seek shelter under our own juniper tree; When we no longer believe that we are one of God’s Facebook friends; when we assume that God no longer has anything to say to us, the soul begins to shrivel—the blossoms fall off the previously luxurious plant.

It is a curious question God asks Elijah. Twice, He asks, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” That’s what the small still voice said. Who do we ask for counsel and insight when confronted by that question?


©2018 D. Dean Benton

Sample Meandering at

Finding Your Flair

We sponsor two Compassion children. A 20- year old Ethiopian with whom I would enjoy a long conversation and a 12-year old girl from Honduras. I don’t know how much a 12 year old knows about the caravan, but I would like to get her family’s perspective.

The 20-year old asked us to pray for his country. I wrote to him yesterday promising to do that. It seems my family has been praying for Ethiopia my entire life. My grandmother listened to missionaries and radio preachers who evangelized and served in that country. I ran across a news photo of Emperor Haile Salassie in my grandmother’s scrapbook. I was stunned when I Googled him and read that today is the 88th anniversary of his coronation! He served Ethiopia 1930-1974.

We bought a share in a chicken farm in Ethiopia several years ago to enable a town to be self-supporting. I’m a little nervous that we will receive a notice informing us it is our turn to clean the coop.

During the latter weeks of the Midterms, I have reappraised the objectives of our ministries—books and blogs. Being a pundit is not my calling, but standing for truth and being prophetic is. Our ministry Mission is to embrace, encourage, equip and engage people. I talk about culture and society when they defy reality and truth or when history indicates a certain path leads to destruction. A female news commentator says, “White men are violent and a problem.” Is that our new assignment? How do we offset that prophesy over the not yet initiated boy?

The computer in your smart phone is more powerful than the computers that drove the space modules in the early editions of space travel. So, I ask, how do I utilize the increase in power to embrace, encourage, equip and engage people? More specifically, how do I encourage my 20-year old Ethiopian who is committed to Jesus to be positioned to engage his world?

I dreamed last night that I bought a structure resembling a school and a warehouse. An elderly woman said, “This will cost a million dollars to get it running.” I thanked her for giving the first million toward the mission. Baby pigs, chickens and kids ill-equipped to engage their world lived in the badly cared for huge building. And more came as the darkness gathered.

In my self-appraisal, I have been nudged to re-read “Genius of Guinness” and to read “Grace” who was one of the Guinness women. The Guinness dreams and work captured me in the first reading. One line…

“…Old Arthur’s second son, Arthur, had inherited what would become the quintessential Guinness flair for business.”

It is that entrepreneurial insight and gifting that Paul called, Apostleship, that is called for as we face the next season. “..flair for business.” The ability to assess needs accurately, provide solutions and the skills to sell to the multitudes.

The plants are indoors for the winter. One blossomed all summer. The blossom is big, orchid-like and ravishing. Now that it is inside it is still producing beautiful colors. It erupts with color and design which lasts one day. We had not expected it to continue the blooming. When I walk past it, it whispers, “I’m not finished, yet.” It has a flair for flowering.

Trey Gowdy received this counsel from Paul Ryan:

“Find what you’re good at it and do more of it. Find what you’re bad at, and stop doing it.”

Gowdy crafted his own mantra:

“Find what you’re good at, and be a decent person in the process.”

(Unified, Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Trey Gowdy, Tyndale ©2018)

It is with a cramp in my gut that I encourage you to find your flair.

©2018 D. Dean Benton–writer, wonderer, witness