Monthly Archives: November 2020


We had Thanksgiving left-overs for supper last evening. Mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, stuffing (interpret as a verb), sweet potatoes, turkey, everything except cranberries. It was as good as Thanksgiving dinner. After 3-4 bites, I slid my fork for a bite of potatoes, stuffing and gravy, when loneliness, nostalgia or something poured over me like a heavy breeze.

Two or three years ago, Carole was trying to figure out how we could expand our table to accommodate the crowd. We discussed adding on a room or moving the table into the living room. Last time I did remodeling just before a holiday with guests didn’t work out so well, so we abandoned tearing out a wall. Just as well. In 2020 the three of us would have felt like being a party of six in a sanctuary built for 2500. But probably no jail time.

I do not know what that “breeze” was about, but it was strong. I remember I was dragging the fork to the left to load it. Vivid! As much as I like the food, it is secondary to the table talk and interaction.

  1. “What are you doing? Building? Writing? Work? Dreaming?”
  2. “What are you thinking?”
  3. “What are you reading?”
  4. “Who are you listening to?”
  5. “What music is on your playlist?”
  6. “Met anyone interesting, lately?”
  7. “What is Jesus saying to you?”
  8. “Funny things you’ve heard?”

(Example:  Friends in Nashville stopped at McDonalds and ordered two decaf coffees with cream in one. The lady taking the order asked, “Cream?…in which one?”)

Stories need a group. The three of us talked, shared good conversation and some laughter and praise. But no one interrupted and it was not raucous. Blue Zones headline—

“Even if You’re Arguing, Eating Together Can Help Your Family Eat Healthier”

We three couldn’t even start a good argument. We might have gotten by with a Cornish hen.

One of my favorite counselors talked about the importance of traditions and the loss extent when there are none or they are neglected. Like, who carves the bird? I missed brewing flavored coffee after dinner.

Coffee. Maybe I missed Grandpa Benton who on holidays sat in the chair with arms. Grandma sat in the chair with no arms to slow her on the way to the kitchen. After Uncle loosened his belt, Grandma would bring the coffee pot. Grandpa Harry would pore his coffee from the cup into the saucer and blow cool it which always strained the sensitivities of Grandma Edith. Anyway that was the traditional exchange between them.

I was blessed by being at table with two tribe members. But, it was different and some room in my soul reacted to the loss. I pray this is not our new normal. I’m not in the mood to test drive any new minimalist traditions.

Advent starts tomorrow. Someone said, “Advent is not something we celebrate, it something we keep.”

I’m still picking the meat off the bones of Thanksgiving.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Sounds Like a Plan

It is easy to find a conspiracy even in a cotton ball. I’m wondering if  shutting Thanksgiving down has global implication. Probably not. If someone could pull it off, it would have spiritual and mental health negative impact. Gratitude is an essential expression.

Thanksgiving has not been “shut down.” Turkey Day has been limited.

Listening to a singer telling a story of God’s provision for his growing up family, I realized what I want Thanksgiving to be: a testimony meeting as people share God’s provision that stimulates us to sing thanks, lift praise, worship and express joy. Thanksgiving 20/20—repeating 2 Chronicles 20:20—singing in the high-priced section.

Encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4).

Thanksgiving 2020 needs to be a mental-health, self-care day by hearing the exploits of God in lives of people who have a place at our inner table. Zoom, Face-time, Skype, Facebook, Parlor. No masks required on email. Yet.

“When the days are dreary and the long nights weary, I know that Jesus cares.”

Happy Thanks Giving

Benton—Dean & Carole

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Know what’s going on in your body this moment?

“Cells are amazing things: there are about one hundred trillion of them in our bodies, each so small that several thousand would fit on the period at the end of this sentence.”

Those words from an incredible story of a woman who influences medical knowledge and research. I continue to quote:

“Under a microscope, a cell looks like a fried egg: It has a white (the cytoplasm) that’s full of water and proteins to keep it fed, and a yolk (the nucleus) that holds all the genetic information that makes you you. The cytoplasm buzzes like a New York City street. It’s crammed full of molecules and vessels endlessly shuttling enzymes and sugars from one part of the cell to another, pumping water, nutrients and oxygen in and out of the cell. All the while, little cytoplasmic factories work 24/7, cranking out sugars, fats, proteins and energy to keep the whole thing running and feed the nucleus—the brains of the operation. Inside every nucleus within each cell in your body, there’s an identical copy of your entire genome. That genome tells cells when to grow and divide and makes sure they do their jobs, whether that’s controlling your heartbeat or helping your brain understand the words on this page.

“…mitosis—the process of cell division—makes it possible for embryos to grow into babies, and for our bodies to create new cells for healing wounds or replenishing blood we’ve lost. …like a perfectly choreographed dance”

From The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot, (©2010 Broadway Books.)

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:14).

Cells—thousands of them at this moment active in your body—can sit on this period .

©2020 D. Dean Benton—amazed and praising God. WOW!

Lovely is Essential

If you haven’t yet decided that Apostle Paul was/is a fine psychologist you might want to consider it. He said if you want God’s presence and God’s peace, then think on—whatever things are lovely.

If the words from Philippians came from God to build a place for His presence and peace to dwell, I want to have confidence that I can take Him at His word, and He said it to Paul and He means it for you and me.

From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:

Lovely (Strong’s 4375) (prosphile is a relationship word derived from pros= towards + philes = friend) refers to that conduct which is dear to someone. Lovable, endearing, amiable, gracious, charming, pleasing, winsome.

“It is conduct which is pleasing in its motive and actions towards others. Lovely has the idea of that which is admirable or agreeable to behold or consider.”

“Whatever is lovely and loveable, think on these things…” (Amplified Bible).

After reading that today was the “lovely” day, I was surrounded by gray and bleak. When was the last time some  thing appeared lovely to me? Ugly dominates airwaves, many secular songs and news reports. I really did not want to go into the market place today. Our governor didn’t call an absolute lockdown, so I had to go. What is lovely out there?

An encounter with a challenged acquaintance pushed me to ask myself, what do I parrot? What influence fine-tunes my brain?

A few days ago, I decided I will not give access to my brain, or my attempt at civility, to anyone who uses the F-word or MFer word, makes fun of, puts down, or ridicules people. Gone! How can I think on lovely things when ugliness, vulgarity and stupidity—things that make no sense—sit at the door like a cat waiting to rush in? A boundary says I can’t, nor I desire to, tell you what to think or say or do. I will say you (generic term) can’t say or do those things in my presence. The boundary has been established.

There is a stretch of Interstate—I think it is between Emporia and Kansas City or Wichita and Emporia. Inexplicably it has shown up in my mind often in recent weeks. We have driven that stretch at sunrise, sunset, midnight. Best going north late afternoon. It is lovely. Rolling hills with vast colors and crops. The very thought makes me smile and mutter a pleasant word.

Another video runs in my head. It is a customized vehicle with the hood open. Chrome bonnet and clean engine. Some of my friends, more educated about cars than I, see beauty in that vehicle. It is more than the grease is gone, it is about the work and expertise that went into making that car or pickup awesome. Lovely. Some buildings, some living rooms, porches are lovely. Some peach cobblers and pumpkin scones are lovely and delicious.

I didn’t find much lovely out there, today. Obviously, it could have been there. Given my mindset I missed it. Everything is a threat. Covid hides behind every breath and on every surface. People are afraid and defensive—protecting themselves against every possibility. I don’t know if I can trust newscasters or opinionators that seemed “safe” in September. We are in an information war—winner takes all, changes the world. My world! The Constitution and our way of government may be at stake.

Lovely is an essential.

My day was rescued by a conversation between Donald Miller and Seth Godin about creativity. It was lovely—why? It motivated me, gave me substance to act on and brought light to the dark prospects. My soul took on a brighter hue. Tools. It gave reasons to recalibrate my thinking. The interaction revealed optimistic, hope-trending hearts.

Those are some things to think about that may present loveliness. Again, loveliness is about relationships and people we interpret as lovely and loveable. I’ve got a list.

Lovely is essential to keep the barbarians and beasts outside the fence. It cleanses the ugly and offers evidence that sewage has not flooded our world. Lovely–Like an essential oil in a diffuser.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Think Again

A little help here: “If there ever was a…,” or “If there ever were a…”?

Today “…think on these things…whatever things are true.” Decide what is true and then ask five people if they agree.

Andy Andrews’ tag line for his podcast is something like, “We go past true all the way to Truth.” Solomon attempted to give us one-liners of true in Proverbs. I’m not asking you about Truth, I’m asking what you believe to be true. If you are looking for “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” don’t expect it from headline writers. Headlines tend to be nothing but click bait.

If the hoped for end result of your thinking is God’s presence and God’s peace (Philippians 4) “true” must be determined—maybe not the whole truth, but just true.

Do you know the story of the Sunday school boy who answered his teacher, “The real answer is ‘squirrel,’ but you want me to say ‘Jesus.’” Attempting to avoid those kinds of questions, I want to say that Jesus’ Truth influences-defines all things true. What will you decide today is true about the election? Will that produce peace in your mind-emotions-actions?

While Truth is not up for debate, all things true can be pretty subjective. For Christians, nothing can be true that contradicts Jesus Truth. Jesus Truth is not about banana cream pie in the freezer. It is about how that Truth shepherds us through our time on earth. Earth true is important—Jesus insists we seek eternal Truth—that which rust, dust, moth, inflation or headlines can change and to know what is true and act accordingly.

I’m pondering today if Jesus would apply this equation: If following your selection of true produces God’s presence and God’s peace then think on it. If it produces different fruit, then think again.

Moving plants from the lawn to my office is done. About 10 days ago. Part of true about my favorite plant is that it wants to be in a window and it will grow toward the light. Several shoots have grown about an inch per day as it reaches for light. A manifestation of true.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Pondering Beyond 11-3-20

There is life beyond the election. It is not going to be, however, like it used to be. Post-election and post-Covid is yet to be determined. The visionaries, futurists (Bible calls them prophets) and the people committed to work (see Nehemiah) will determine.

The Church of Jesus Christ has sought to “turn from our wicked ways.” I’m concerned that in that heavy-duty pursuit we may have concluded we will never repent enough or find the one sin we forgot and therefore disqualify us from God’s healing. God’s mercy outweighs the demands of earthly gods who can never be assuaged or convinced. The Founding Fathers were not saying in the Declaration or Constitution that they were a perfect, sinless group we were to emulate. They sat before us America’s permanent goals and pursuit—“with liberty & justice for all.

Lou Engel tells this story about William Wilberforce. Wilberforce worked legislatively for decades to abolish slavery in Great Britain. Several years before he won the battle, he lacked four votes in Parliament to pass the bill to abolish. The four politicians chose to not vote and went to an opera instead.

Wilberforce observed how four votes would have made the difference in many deaths, suffering and subjugation.

“I hope you enjoyed the opera.”

I’ve been wondering how to nurture myself in the days when there are no phone calls from the DNC or RNC and no polls. I’m going to miss the slick political ads filling my mail box. (Really gonna miss those people!)

I was putting newly released books on the shelf. I usually ask people who have their phone in hand and a list if there is something I can help them find. Which makes my wife laugh because I can’t find anything in the fridge that is not on the front of the shelf.

“No, I’m just looking.” She said and then picked up a specific book with the word “Disloyalty” in the title. She said something that spurred me to say, “I think disloyalty is the darkest of words….” She accusingly responded, “You’re not a Republican, are you?” For a moment I felt the heat of a fire in a court yard. I laughed and said, “I think of myself as an Independent…a little right of center.” She said, “Thank God!”

I got the feeling from this well-dressed and well-educated lady’s words, and the way she looked at me, that I could have said, “No, but I am a rapist and I drown puppies,” and it would not have fazed her. Here she was in the book department praising God that at least, I’m not a Republican.

I am a Conservative a little right of center. I’m comfortable with a definition I’ve adapted:

“Holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change. I believe that certain things, attitudes and values are worth conserving and are the best base upon which to teach history while enabling people to think creatively and equipping to innovate.”

Ponderings. I do not think that Amy Coney Barrett was nominated primarily to take down Roe v Wade. She is not a one-issue justice. Sixty-million-plus babies dead is beyond ability to grasp. If Roe v Wade were to be overturned, we are left with what will take its place? A Supreme Court ruling will not change the minds of people who desire to exercise their “choice.” I certainly do not want the “back alley” scenario to return. Rather than “old normal” I look forward to a better way.

I think Trey Gowdy is a good example of a Conservative. He is passionate, a celebrator of truth and a welcomer of diverse discussion. His new book, Doesn’t Hurt to Ask, is about an open, honest, common sense life. I come away from his weekly podcasts having learned something and being challenged. “Tuesdays with Trey.” This week’s topic is “Flirting with Absurdity.” Last week he talked about Presidential debates: The people the candidates seek to serve deserve better. He has an interesting plan.

Dr. Lance Wallnau is a mentor, futurist and thinker. He is a conservative linked to contrarianism. He is a humorist who sounds like Jackie Mason, and communicates best with a white board within reach. I’ve been reading his new book, God’s Chaos Code. He helps me understand what our cultural upheaval is about. He was the first to identify Donald Trump as a Cyrus Leader (Isaiah 45), but his primary devotion is to God’s Kingdom and teaches about “discipling nations”—Jesus words. His is an important voice for our day.

Christians who seek to consider what a tomorrow America could look like will benefit by reading and talking about God’s Chaos Code. Paperback available from Amazon. The ideas need to be discussed in a small group as we consider post-Nov 3. The Left has a massively funded agenda. The Right has an agenda. God’s biblical Kingdom has an agenda which leans neither direction. The Kingdom’s agenda is righteousness.

I want another word without the baggage. I understand righteousness to be, “The manner of living that glorifies God. To live aligned with grace, mercy and Jesus’ Great Commandment to ‘love God and your neighbor as yourself.’ Both Old and New Testaments declare God’s design as ‘liberty and justice for all.’” Wallnau helps us personalize and globalize righteousness.

The opera is not worth the cost.

©2020 D. Dean Benton