Monthly Archives: December 2020

Trending: Hybrid Normalcy

Being a wanna-be-entrepreneur, this research interests me. (From StoryBrand Podcast—Donald Miller.) People don’t want to return to old normal, we (so research shows) want to pick and choose to build a personally crafted life and life style. Change and choice. A business exploding during COVID is the delivery business, and it will expand at every level.

Hunkering in and down is the best place to be safe from increasing crime, so predictors guess.

Delivered. Since the most “toxic” shopping area is grocery stores, the safe thing for seniors and those at risk is to exclusively have groceries delivered. “Online” is where business is growing and projected. That is true for entertainment. One-two out of four worshippers will not return to the church building after the Pandemic lifts. That suggests experience—including experiencing worship—will need to be delivered. Experience on delivery to your doorstep changes the core fiber and us. We don’t even have to walk to the colosseum, or if you prefer, the coliseum.  

Joshua DuBois, whose company interviews 10,000 people a day, says Americans have discovered and use! The mute button. Having been overloaded with political loud battles and constant talk of COVID, we have reached overload. Everything tends to be conspiratorial, therefore “we” will not listen! Period. End of discussion. “Since I can’t do anything about it anyway, why waste my energy?”

Delete is another button that attracts rapid-fire thumbs. I was invited to an online study of Revelation. Delete! Delete! As interested I am, I don’t have the energy or bandwidth to calculate what trumpets, bowls and such could really mean in the 21st Century. People are going to search for certainty, answers and assurance. We have been swimming with crocodiles for months and don’t want any more supposition or maybes. One of the biggest questions in the 60s-70s was, “Why are conservative churches growing?” Research showed it was proclamation of sureness and a Kingdom that could not be shaken. The preachers in those churches proclaimed that Jesus is involved in the affairs of man and has a plan for individuals and nations. There has been enough talk of nuances, ambiguity and gray areas. We’re not denying the presence of slick, slippery and instable, we want to hear prophets who have the assurance and credibility of Daniel and the emotional connections of Jeremiah—transparent, authentic, bold and listening to God the Father and people sharing the pool with crocodiles.

Connect. Many futurists are talking about the beginning of A Great American Awakening. A person doesn’t need to be a revivalist or whacky prophet to predict such things. We only need to read history. The Awakenings under George Whitfield, The Cane Ridge Revival and the huge awakenings that birthed The Jesus People have some of the characteristics of 2020. I suspect that God will raise someone with a message that says, “Come, join the Kingdom. We can change the World.” There will be music, joy, Holy Spirit demonstrations and vast numbers of conversions.

I have one concern. What if the Deplorables are even 50% right? The recent cyber-attack on our government institutions—from whomever—cannot be written off as a Right-Wing Conspiracy. For those who are living with the mute button on 50%-100% of the time, the country can be “fundamentally changed” without a peep. Those who are not listening are usually stunned to hear alternative news—“When did all that happen?” I want to be listening and looking.

I really wanted to see the Bethlehem Star. I was primed! “…those who walk in darkness see a great light.” I bounded down the back stairs looking into the sky just as the garage motion-sensor-flood light met my eyes. I saw stars alright, but not the right ones. I never did see Bethlehem Star. Cloudy. I saw parking lot lights, convenience store signs. Porch lights. I felt cheated. My anticipation turned into a Charlie Brown Christmas. I missed the great light and there is some doubt that I will not make the next showing.

Those who walked in darkness, have seen a radiant light shining upon them. They once lived in the shadows of death,    but now a glorious light has dawned!

Isaiah 9:2

 Don’t want to miss the great, glorious, radiant light.

©2020 D. Dean Benton  

A Gleam across the way

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2 NIV).

This is a Messianic prophecy. “Deep darkness” refers to death and its fears.

That verse grabbed me when I read it on the church sign. Not exactly “grabbed” me, it was like it slid off the sign and slipped into my soul. It still is vibrating there.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, did God say, “Check. Done!” My response to Isaiah 9:2 yesterday was that our world—today—is floundering in darkness. Even reveling/celebrating in darkness. The workers of darkness are busy. If living in the light means clarity, I’m not there. I need to turn the fog lights on.

Driving the 4-5 blocks on the street where the church sign is, (where my wife always says, “You better slow down!”) I was flooded with, “Jesus, you are the great light. What catalyst during Christmastide 2020 will cause those walking in darkness to see a great light and experience the dawning light?”

I sense we are moving toward a Kingdom mindset. If Isaiah 9:2 is important to our day, the rest of that paragraph is also.

Isaiah 9:2-7–Message  

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—light! sunbursts of light!

You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy.

Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy!

The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.

The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants—all their whips and cudgels and curses—

Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.

The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,

Will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days!

For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us!  

He’ll take over the running of the world.

His names will be: Amazing Counselor,

Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.

His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.

He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom.

He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going

With fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always.

The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.

It’s a ponder: Am I a Lower Light?

© 2020 D. Dean Benton

Fighting For Connection

I took Leonard Sweet’s book, The Gospel According to Starbucks, (WaterBrook, 2007) with me on a business road trip. The subtitle is, “Living with a Grande Passion.” This is my third time through this book. It is that rich. Sweet loves coffee and has lots of stories. He likes Southern Gospel Music and knows the pioneers. He loves Jesus Gospel and is a preaching instructor and theologian. Eclectic! I’ve gone into extra words here, because he is a fine writer. If you are a writer, speaker or any kind of wordsmith, you would like Sweet’s writing. His book, A Cup of Coffee at the Soul Café (Broadman & Holman, 1998) is one of the most beautifully designed books I’ve seen. In the Starbucks book Sweet says,

“Coffee brings people together. That’s why we don’t have an idiom in the English language along the lines of, ‘Let’s stay apart for coffee.’ It’s always, ‘Let’s get together for coffee.’”

My favorite coffee shop is in that city where I took Carole and the book. It is an independent shop that is also an eatery. I take my laptop and briefcase and hunker in. I gather energy from the customers and staff. The rafters are open beams one of which is broken—split—which is repaired by a steel plate and large bolts. I look forward to the good coffee, comfort and atmosphere. This would be only the second or third time since March to sit in a coffee shop. I had to go back to the car to retrieve my mask which reminded me we live in a different world than we were in the last time I drank their brew.

The coffee shop was no longer welcoming. People sitting around tables slipped their masks off to sip on their coffee as if it was illegitimate or forbidden—don’t get caught. I ordered my drink to go and sat in the car warmed by solar energy to read and think—and feel very sad and lonely—in spite of the luscious flavored coffee.

Ray Oldenburg coined the phrase and concept of “Your third place.” Home, work, and a third place. For some the third place is a bar, pub, tavern, bowling alley. I think ballparks can fill that slot. The church used to be the major third place for many people. Coffee shops took over that place for our kids and grandkids. Starbucks led the way.

The most accurate 2020 Christmas Song is, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Third places are almost outlawed—certainly a target. The first two places: home and work are under scrutiny and depending on your level of conspiracy hunting, home and work parameters are being dictated by Big Brother. It is not conspiratorial to believe that connections are essential to health.

The loudest word I heard in the past 24 hours is that we must fight for personal connections. I’m not calling for civil disobedience or suggesting we open churches, although when I slouch into conspiracy thinking, I see how keeping churches closed is damaging to the individual and the community.

My cousin left a note for her husband. He read it, “Going to Dairy Queen for a bite.” When she hadn’t arrived for supper, he assumed the worst. She called him—the note she wrote said, “Going to Bowling Green for the nite.” (Bowling Green is where her daughter lived.)

Connections in 2020 require clear communication and plenty of it. “…fight for personal connections” may not have come from God, but it sounds like something He would say.  Now, Holy Spirit shall give us instructions and strategies how to do that. I don’t know what number law it is: “All things in motion tend toward entropy.” That is true for relationships—even marriage. The New Testament relationship motion is always energized toward.

Mental health and Kingdom life-flow is affected as isolation moves from community interaction to lockdown and then individual isolation and shutting down. Connection is worth fight for—essential.

“Forget Cheers (“where everybody knows your name”) Remember Starbucks (“Where everybody wants to know your soul”). (Leonard Sweet)

That is not my coffee shop experience, but we need someplace where some tribe offers that level of connection.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Living the EPIC adventure: Experience, Participation, Image-rich and Connecting.

God of Green Hope

It may be the Monday Kingdom verse:

“…may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

John Eldredge, in Wild at Heart podcast today, says that hope is being assaulted. I have no final word if that is conspiratorial. It is the natural outcome of what we are living in and through. My Message Bible was open to Romans 15 which seemed like a “in the mouth of 2-3 witnesses.”  The times call for spiritual/supernatural hope.

“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”

So that your believing lives. Is the “I” in lives long or short? Hopelessness is more pervasive than the virus. It has grasped the hand of helplessness and is producing not only locked-down cities, but locked-down people. So, how to keep a believing life alive?

I was sorting through boxes of books I stored in our garage some years ago. I found notebooks of sermons. The best part of my sermons are stories and quotations. I glanced through a couple and found two quotes from kids I talked to in concerts. I asked a child if the girl sitting next to her was her sister. She looked at the girl, looked thoughtfully at me and replied, “No. I’m the sister.” Another child asked me, “What is the name of your best friend?”

There you have it—at least part of it. 1. Keep your relationships straight—not pecking order, but how you are related and how you relate. 2. Know who your friends are and how you benefit and are beneficial to those people. One of my friends posted this morning,

“…we are walking each other home.”

The Message Bible is a translation, not a paraphrase. Peterson found something “growing” in God-hope that he named it green hope. It is on the grow. Romans 15:13 turns hope on its head. The saying is, “As long as you have hope….” This verse says when God fills us with joy and peace, hope will be the outcome. Hope becomes systemic when we open ourselves to joy and peace—gifts from the Father.

Chaos and darkness. Hell has loosed highly skilled demons, principalities and powers. The fresh appearance of The Christ is needed and our opening to His joy and peace. America has social-distanced itself from Christ too long.

Carole and I decided not to decorate for Christmas. Maybe hang a picture of a Christmas tree next to a crackling fireplace on TV. Several days into the pledge, Carole has hung lights on railings, trees and windows. There is a large vase in the bay window filled with strings of white lights. And a tree in the kitchen. She is fighting back against the darkness. Joy and peace can be weaponized.

Eggnog and holly—no mistletoe this year. We need a fresh awakening to His presence.

“We Need a Little Christmas”–

If you have not read my ebook, HopePushers-intent on delivery, you can download it from 

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Nominated for Nobility

“Whatever is noble…think on these things…” (Philippians 4:8).

I’ve been searching for noble things and noble people. Can a potato peeler be noble? Maybe. I’m tentative venturing that only people can be noble and we are to look for nobility in normal workday activities. Paul probably was saying, “Take a look at what is stressing you into eating an entire pumpkin pie at one sitting—alone—can you find anything noble in the stressor? Who are the nobility in your world today?

The first English settlement on the continent that I know about was Jamestown in Virginia. We are introduced to Pocahontas in Jamestown. The chaplain of that company was The Rev. Robert Hunt. Upon landing in 1607, he consecrated the new land to the glory of God and declared the purpose for the journey and the purpose of the colony being established:

“Raising his hands to heaven, Rev. Robert Hunt claimed the land for country and king and consecrated the continent to the glory of God. In covenantal language he declared, ‘…from these very shores the Gospel shall go forth to not only this New World, but the entire world.’”


As I remember, The Tallest Poppy was a phrase I first heard during the Vietnam era. Marxism/Socialism utilized that practice by killing all those whose achievements and status pushed them into leadership positions. There is another application in the media and digital world:

Tall Poppy Syndrome, a term that was popularized in Australia, occurs when people are attacked, resented, disliked, criticized or cut down because of their achievements and/or success.

Using Bill O’Reilly’s literature device—Killing Nobility—is seen in statue destruction and rewriting history and in the Jezebel spirit seeks to destroy leadership that opposes the acceptable think and speak.

In my search for nobility, I have decided the prize goes to school teachers, parents who are trying to be teachers during the lockdowns and the students. Those who will thrive from this time and challenge are the self-starters and students who push themselves to be self-reliant. “Self-governed.” Seems to me there are several kinds of self-reliant students. Those who are born with that trait, those whose parents and teachers ignited them and those like John Adams who had no preconditions for nobility,  became self-motivated. Our nation has several Rebar in our foundation, none more essential than self-governing. I propose closing schools is not helpful in building self-governing strengths. I doubt that Netflix is a strong teacher of self-reliance or governing. (Maybe, sometimes.)

You hear about the father who said to his kids, “What are you doing? I didn’t spend big bucks on Netflix so you could sit there and read!”

John Eldredge—Wild at Heart podcast—“School During Pandemic” is helpful to grasp why teachers, parents attempting to teach and self-reliant students get my vote for nobility.

Think on these things

Sorry, teachers. There no medals or plaques with this prize except those wrapped in skin with names and stories.

©2020 D. Dean Benton