Monthly Archives: September 2019

Hanging Out Stream-side

The August 2019 issue of Christian Standard magazine features cover story and several articles about Robert Coleman. Robert Coleman’s books Master Plan of Evangelism and Master Plan of Discipleship have strongly influenced my ministry. The Evangelism book has now sold 3.1 million copies and translated into 105 languages.

Mr. Coleman lives a block from our friends Gary and Marilyn Hansen in Wilmore, Kentucky. That opened the door for me to accompany Gary and Mr. Coleman to their Saturday morning men’s gathering and then chat with this apostle of evangelism for the rest of the morning. Quite an experience.

Jerry Harris, the publisher of Christian Standard, wrote:

“Robert Coleman (now 91) is a very tall, stately, well-built man, standing maybe six foot five. He has a full head of thick white hair, piercing eyes, and a smile that lights up a room. His stature reminds me of David’s word in Psalm 1: ‘That person is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields it fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.’”

Now, I have a different view of Psalm 1. It is not the text for a speaker at a retirement event.

Willson Contreras is the All-Star catcher for the Chicago Cubs. A reporter asked him what his #1 goal was. Contreras replied, “To be the best catcher in baseball.” The writer said Contreras pushes himself, places himself in growth situations to fulfill that goal. He is not passive or just waiting for it to happen.

Psalm one is not a paragraph in a biography. Want to be a fruit yielder? Want to produce a flourishing leaf? Want your life to prosper? Hang out next to the water—streams or wells.

©2019 D. Dean Benton     https://deanbenton.org

“The water I give will be an artesian well within gushing fountains of endless life” Jesus (John 4:14).

 

Grandpa Mason’s New Life

Our daughter, Deborah, follows an Internet link to a Canadian kitten rescue facility. The cameras are rolling 24/7. Deb sent us a post of a gnarled up feral tiger cat named Grandpa Mason, that hated humans but deeply loved kittens. He couldn’t be released because of kidney disease. The vet said he had about 3 months, but with daily care he has lived 3 years. The lady honored that he was feral. Cared for by the manager of the rescue house and the gnarly cat’s care for orphaned kittens. He set aside his love for aloneness to be parent for the kittens.

Deb says she appreciates the link and view because it teaches much about TNR—Trap, Neuter, Release. An extended neighborhood in New York practices TNR to release the cats as militant contractors to get rid of rats. With good success.

The ragged and rugged cat’s kidneys failed the other night. They gave him the next day to be with his latest bunch of motherless kittens before the vet made a house call.

Deb says she also appreciates that the streaming contact teaches the importance of managed feral communities. Managed Feral Community. That is an amusing concept and a huge challenge. Our Rachel had a feral kitten—Snowflake—who lived in her room for several years mostly under her bed. As Carole observed, it is difficult to hug a feral cat who doesn’t want to be touched.

“The Blue Zones” is a book and a movement with connections to The Seventh Day Adventist Church. Dan Buettner took a team to several Blue Zones around the world to research why the residents are the longest living people on the planet—living and thriving. The team found and continue to find “9 Lessons for Living Longer.” Two are common to all—in the Far East and your house and mine:

CONNECTION AND PURPOSE

I don’t know what day of the week Grandpa Mason went to church, but I know why he lived three more years than the vets bet on. He found a new normal where he was connected to people who recognized who he was and interacted with him. He found a purpose—litters of kittens who needed him. Blue Zones perpetually find those two assets in the maturing. Take away the infrastructure and the people die.

Neil Enloe is a singer, piano player, songwriter and member of The Couriers—a group out of Pennsylvania whose music is on YouTube. After retirement he posted this:

“Looking back on my 56 years of full time singing, my experience prompts some suggestions:”

You can find the entire list on Neil Enloe’s FaceBook time line. I refer to # 4:

  1. “When you can’t keep up with your road schedule any longer (and it will happen sooner or later) or the phone stops ringing, and you sit at home wondering where your youth went, you will struggle with the word ‘purpose.’”

PURPOSE

What is my purpose now?  Once it was quite clear. Maybe Caleb (Joshua 14:10-14) will come by and talk to me and bring clarity how to conquer the mountain and which mountain.  Tough!

Bob Buford was a wealthy broadcaster who decided to live the second half of his life with the gusto and devotion in the first half. He needed a new purpose. I have 3-4 of his books rich with suggestions how he refocused:

Halftime, (Zondervan)

Finishing Well, (Integrity Publishers)

Stuck in Halftime (Zondervan—Harper & Collins)

Managed Feral Community.

Sounds like a great place to stop in for coffee, take naps, sit on the porch and invest in kittens or people.

©2019 D. Dean Benton– writer, wonderer, wonk in training

With help from Deborah Benton Johnston, Thanks to Neil Enloe

Websites—https://DeanBenton.org  

https://bentonministries.com

For more about Grandpa Mason:  Grandpa Mason and his kittens–there are several sites.

The Plan

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 New King James Version (NKJV)

That is a tricky verse, especially when we personalize it. It was given to the Hebrew nation when they were taken into captivity. The people as a whole would not return to Jerusalem, many would work as slaves or servants. Some would gain ranking jobs where their talents would be used. Think about Nehemiah, Daniel and Company, Joseph.

The verse makes me nervous—especially the translation: “thoughts to prosper you….” My mind always goes to money and I get my deposit slips ready. Sometimes, that is exactly what a person of faith does/should do, but God is telling the Hebrews the contrast of “peace versus evil,” or “prosper” versus “  do you harm.”

“The plans I have for you…” (NIV).

God is telling us that we, or the Hebrews, are not in the quick sand because He is angry with us. Even after the missteps or sin, He has a plan and it includes “a future and a hope.”

I listened to a couple of sermons/teaching recently that reached into my soul. Kris Vallotten works as Senior Associate at Bethel Church in Reading, California with Pastor Bill Johnson.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/kris-vallottons-podcast/id158029989

“Cultural Transformation.”

Vallotten talks about Joseph from Genesis 49-50. Though not his intention, the message speaks to the current secular abhorrence of Christians and their churches. Joseph, as you recall, was sold into slavery by his brothers when he was 17. His career path takes him through the pit, the prison and several other ground floor beginnings before he interprets one of Pharaoh’s dreams which saves many lives and earns Joseph a corner office. With lots of setbacks and bruises, Joseph must have caught on and prayed, “How can I fit into Your plans for me?” He listened until he heard.

I have never paid attention to Joseph’s experience when his father Jacob died. Pharaoh and the Egyptians loved Joseph although he served Yahweh as God. The Egyptians wept and mourned for 70 days when Jacob died. Joseph had served the nation and Pharaoh so well he won a unique spot in their hearts. When Joseph told Pharaoh his father had asked him to take him home to bury him in Canaan where Abraham had purchased a family burial plot, Egypt’s king not only gave permission, he said, “We’ll go with you!” Pharaoh took his whole staff in the funeral possession to Canaan. They wept!

(I want you to listen to that whole message.)

It would be great if we had Joseph’s journal to read his entries how those days affected him. Now I grasp how powerful the words are: “A king rose who knew not Joseph.” (Exodus 1:8).

“My plans for you.”

“A future.”

“A hope.”

There is also the biography of Daniel who spent every day of the 70 year Babylonian exile as a captive—but trusted and loved counselor to the king.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a greater promise than I have allowed. It is not a promise of escape or free ticket back to what used to be. The challenge is to find the plan that will lead to the future and hope if we will fit into the plan.

©2019 D. Dean Benton, writer, wonderer, wonk in training.

I DIDN’T KNOW THAT

It sure sounded like a crazy idea to me.

I didn’t know that Greenland has a land mass the size of the United States. I didn’t know that the entire population of Greenland will fit in Kinnick Stadium (Iowa) on any given football Saturday. I didn’t know its rich natural resources makes it a great investment and can be a buffer against an invasion from the north. I did know it is owned by Denmark. I didn’t know that it is has more connections to Canada than Copenhagen.

When President Donald J. Trump suggested the USA purchase Greenland, I didn’t know that several presidents have been kicking those tires for decades. I didn’t know that the good reasons to buy has been discussed by newspapers, by committees and statesmen for a long time. It has been considered a good purchase for us and for Denmark. (Facts and info from Stephen Mansfield–Stephen Mansfield Podcast.)

Wherever the current discussion was spawned, President Trump was discussing it behind closed doors with advisors and specialists. “For eyes only!” But someone in that room leaked it to the press. The press ran with the crazy angle to embarrass the President and make him look nutso.

I think it was General Eisenhower who found the news people had information about a major invasion. He gathered the press and told them the plans. He then told them what they were hearing was absolutely classified. If it was leaked, they would be tried for treason and he promised that they would be shot. I can imagine General James Mattis saying that.

I don’t know why Mr. Trump cancelled his trip to Denmark. Some pundits say it was like the actions of a four-year-old. I hesitate making that judgment—given my limited amount of inside info and classified data, I think I’ll forego making comments about Denmark or Trump’s behavior.

Perhaps you have heard that NOAA stood beside our President about Alabama being considered an early target of Hurricane Dorian. NOAA also chastised The Weather folks for its handling of the aftermath of what looked like another reason to charge Trump with senility—SHARPIE-GATE. Some said Trump redrew the hurricane map. The Press saw an opportunity.

I delight in the marketing acumen of the Trump 20/20 campaign. The reelection committee is selling Sharpies—made in America with the presidential signature and an election tag line.

I don’t know what led to Denmark being crossed off places to land Air Force # 1. I’m guessing a Sharpie was used to draw the X.

  1. I propose we make a down payment on Greenland.
  2. I nominate General Mattis as White House Chief of Staff—authorized to carry a loaded paint-ball gun.
  3. I wonder about a plan to salvage the USA.

But, then, what do I know?

©2019 D. Dean Benton—–Writer, Wonderer, Wonk in training, Information broker.