Monthly Archives: November 2021

Won’t Need An Excuse

Thanksgiving 2021.

Our list is long.

I can’t move far from concentrating on my wife being actively preparing for this season. Carole walked to the edge a couple of times over the past six weeks and triple-bypass surgery. She almost gave up. Contemplating how things turned toward healing focuses on medical people who released the blessing—they prayed with us, promised to pray for her and they spoke hope. Those acts released energy and healing into the room. I’m talking about real energy and real healing that lifted our sagging heads and hearts while nudging the body to do its best work.

Just last week the Kidney Specialist talked dialysis possibility. Carole was asking how could she could go from perfect kidney numbers to critical stage in six days? Her GP said, “Wait a minute—let’s look at the large picture.” 

A couple of med adjustments seem to have been the solution. Meds that had been needed post surgery had been ordered as permanent. The doctor’s words lifted sagging heads and hearts, again. Psalm 3:3 became one of my go-to scriptures for this season:

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, Lord, You are the lifter of my head.”

God did that and He selected an interesting group of people to be co-lifters. Yesterday, I looked through cards and letters Carole received. Friends and family walked with her and poured into us. Thank you for gas money, food, words, prayers. They prayed when I was out of words and single-minded. They stood steady. We are Thankful!

Thanks! – Praise – Celebration!

A friend sent me several pages of her book proposal. I couldn’t grasp why I was crying while reading. Tears of thanks and grief. I was thankful for a Savior and a Kingdom anxious to heal her wounds and pain. I grieved that Kingdom Life had not reached her sooner. We hurt over friends who gave up. “Lost” takes on so many shades. I am very thankful for those who cared for the hurting and grieving while striving to keep their own selves together. Some “lifted” when they were deep in their own grief. Thank you!

Another go-to motivator from Ephesians 5:19-20:

 Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge drafts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.

Any excuse for a song to God.

Carole asked me to get her a 2022 calendar. I couldn’t find what she wanted. “Not in, yet.” Are you kidding me? It is Thanksgiving and there are no calendars? The clerk checked with management and was told their shipment of calendars are on parked trucks and stalled on ships in harbors.

(I found several cases of calendars in the back room at Menards.)

I am thankful that we—you, Carole and I—have a reason to want and need for a 2022 calendar.

I am also thankful for our nation and the faithful founding fathers and mothers. George Washington had this to say a few Thanksgiving Days ago:

President George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation:

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks–for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted – for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us – and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

Happy Thanks giving

©2021 D. Dean Benton

Lifter of My Head

An excerpt from a closing chapter of The Carafe Conspiracy. ©2021 D. Dean Benton.

The Carafe Conspiracy is the act of walking beside and pouring into companions, associates and clients. That is clearly the work of a Jesus Follower. What do we pour? What is the point of walking beside? It is to experience together the coming of God’s Kingdom onto Earth in and on individuals, communities and nations. We are not conspiratorial. We desire to discover and pour the essentials that develop a Jesus Follower. Our Carafe ministry is a mission that matters. The unknown—hidden to us—feels like a conspiracy as Holy Spirit guides people, reveals what needs to happen, how we are to respond and reveals through discernment, revelations, conversations, the path to healing, and the significant life. All of this is based on the answer to, Just how far are we willing to grow?

“Your kingdom come! Now!”

But it didn’t seem to be coming. Chad packed his case into the car, waved to security and drove toward wherever his vehicle would take him. He drove past the hospital’s parking lot where he had been slugged and the hospital where his friends had brought him when he had been found in the old building. Chad had forgotten how long he was a recovering patient or even if there was a diagnosis. Closed head injury with temporary amnesia sounded right. Not much clarity about that hospital stay. He stood in the spot where the drug dealers had beaten and kidnaped him and the Patient Discharge door where his friends had picked him up to take him back to the Southwood campus to recover.

“I’m going to ask Brent what he remembers.” With that he wrote a note in his phone and pointed his car to the Interstate truck stop to settle into his favorite coffee shop booth. Favorite because it gave him the best view to sketch the customers, waitress and what was going on in his head.

Two cups and a piece of peach pie into the second hour of his mental free-wheeling he started a fresh sketch pad page and a new customer. A man with dark, short hair, glasses and a mask he adjusted into place between sips of coffee. This restaurant catered to truck drivers and travelers. The man taking shape on Chad’s paper wore a blazer and a badge. Maybe he liked chrome things too. There was something familiar about the man which drew the artist’s full attention.

“Seoul, Korea. I met him at a church or the embassy in Seoul.” He returned to his pencil work. But something didn’t fit. He puzzled until he realized no one in Seoul would have been wearing a mask like that when they would have met.

“May I join you for a minute?” Chad introduced himself and sat uninvited at the table. “Do you work in Seoul?”

The man chuckled said he did not. “I’m a doctor at St. Luke’s on 176th Street. Not in Seoul, but in this city. Have you been to Seoul?”

There was no answer, just silence as the puzzling continued. Of course, Chad would have seen people wearing masks at the hospital. His amnesia had been deeper than he thought.

“I traveled to Seoul on NGO trips. I didn’t meet you there, I must have met you in your hospital. You came into my room to talk about my head injury.” Slowly clarity slipped in. He remembered this masked man being in his hospital room wearing a mask. Other hidden memories began focusing like lens focus when twisted. “Dr., any clue what I’m talking about?” I would have had friends with me. Nurse Della….”

“Of course. Della is a close friend. I remember! Every event including the Putnams is memorable.” Chad knew the Dr. was smiling behind the mask. “Yes. I was working at Nicol’s Memorial that day, but your injury demanded my skill so, I was called in to St. Luke’s. It was a chaotic time for us.”

“Did you tell me you would pray for me?”

“I did pray for you. I told your friends I would be praying for you and for my judgement and ability.”

“Do you say that to all your patients?”

“Well, that is what we do.”

“What we do?” Chad asked.

“Yes.” The doctor paused. My grandparents and great-grandparents would regularly go to Prayer Mountain in Seoul at 4:00 a.m. to pray. Their prayer altars were in an excavated-out hole in the mountain. That prayer tradition comes to me. Miracles! Spiritual awakenings. You may have missed South Korea if you didn’t go to Prayer Mountain.”

“At four a.m.?”

“Yes. If people did not arrive until 5:00, my family thought they were backslidden.”

Chad felt he had missed something and that he was late. Definitely late.

“We Western Christians have missed….”

If he lived long enough for his mustache to grow as bushy as Ross’ and he adopted all the habits of Brent, Buddy  and Charlie, he would never forget that phrase: “Well, that is what we do!”

The physician’s digital device jarred Chad back into the moment. The doctor was being called to an emergency. “Got to go. Talk to your friends about that hospital visit. They will know more than I do.” As he walked toward the door, Dr. Cho turned and addressed Chad. “And—I want a copy of that drawing.”

Chad Wilson sat at the truck stop counter staring at his pencil drawing. Slowly, he remembered the minutes after the doctor had left his hospital room that night after his journey into absence and forgotten-ness. Chad repeated out loud what he had said to himself that night, “What just happened here?”

The next morning, he related to his “friends” the truck stop encounter. Then, he asked them, “What did happen that evening? What was your take-away?”

There were no instant answers. There was a lot of staring into coffee cups. There was no one answer. There was a feeling that even after an answer was found or many answers, they would be inadequate.

Brent chuckled and said, “I would think that a prophet-at-large would know what happened!”

“You would think so, wouldn’t you? Chad good naturedly responded.

“You’ve been thinking, apparently, that you came home that night. You had been in the hospital for three days,” Della said. “You were pretty much out-of-it most of the time You talked about Sondra. I don’t remember your wife’s name being a Sondra.”

“Great! You going to tell the media what I said?”

“You were down, weak from discouragement and depression—on the verge of giving up and we couldn’t figure out why,” Della’s voice was soft, “and I was concerned for you.”

Ross was on his way to work with a last swallow of Mountain Dew. “The medical people kept saying it was a Closed Head Injury. I was thinking Lance and I could really have big fun with a Closed Head Injury theme. Do you notice how disciplined I was? A real grown-up. I restrained myself. Nothing inappropriate when I had such a huge opening.” Ross could have “left the stage” but he wasn’t finished sharing his take. “I’m not experienced with this, but it felt to me like it was what y’all are talking about when you say, ‘Kingdom.’ It was and is—as in still going on—a Kingdom event.”

The tribe muttered an assortment of responses.

“It was that!”

“Dr. Cho released the blessing!” Brent said with gentle passion. “It took me hours to be able to put a label on what happened to me and to all of us. He released the blessing and Ross is right. It is still being released.”

“What exactly does that mean?” Ross asked.

Felicia placed her hand on Chad’s arm and answered him. “You turned from depressed to hopeful, jubilant and positive anticipation. Your demeanor changed, something got healed that wasn’t closed up in your skull.”

“Holy Spirit lifted up your head, Chad, literally and in every other way.” Charlie was experiencing the moment, again.

“But you, O Lord, are a shield around me,   my glory, the Lifter of my head…” (Psalm 3:3).

His wife Della said, “We all heard you singing those words in praise. Something just beyond definition moved through that room into each of us, at least that is what you have described.” Nurse Della was at that moment touching a radical healing realm. “I have wondered ever since what if we had sung those words.”

“Well, let’s see.” Charlie used the interlude to pull up “You’re My Glory” on his phone playlist.

“I call out to the Lord,

and he answers me from his holy mountain.

 I lie down and sleep;

I wake again, because the Lord sustains me” (Psalm 34-5).

Chad spoke the words into a quiet room. “That is my testimony. I own those words. ‘I wake again—Lifter of my head.’”

©2021 D. Dean Benton

The Carafe Conspiracy. A novel, will soon be published as an ebook.

Maybe Not So Strange

Strange dream in which I was involved with a house-based fellowship’s renewal gathering. It wasn’t a large house, but it was exciting and energized. The families decided to move to the house during the meeting, sleeping in sleeping bags on the basement floor. Acts Two describes a gathering in the Upper Room. The dream had that flavor.

That small fellowship was hounded by non-faith people and harassed by some churches, especially a church across the street. That group gathered on their front lawn to protest their neighbors—the fellowship with whom I was connected.

Given my recent study of secular worldviews and biblical worldviews, there is no mystery where that comes from. In the dream, I walked around the block and the properties to capture a sense of what was going on. The leader of the harassing church was sitting in a lawn chair on their church lawn. I sat on the grass and asked him what the hassle was about.

“You people are obsessed with healing. That stuff stopped with the Apostles. We have doctors and medicine these days….”

Of course! I thought. I remember staring at the grass in front of me and feeling badly that this man could miss the Kingdom message that far. I was celebrating doctors and medicine and all the skills the techs, nurses and doctors had learned and stewarded into growth. Several times surgeons and physicians have told me about studying to solve mysterious cases. Their late hour research saved their patient in what could have been the last hour. That kind of commitment is worthy of celebration and thankfulness for it is God’s gift of healing through skilled people.

“Jesus now called the Twelve and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases. He commissioned them to preach the news of God’s kingdom and heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2).

A nurse’s statement to me that day: “We can give all kinds of care and medicine, and we do, but healing comes through the patient’s eating and personal efforts.” (paraphrase) The “pro’s” job is to equip the “sick” with tools and the will to position self to receive God’s healing intervention. Russ Taff’s wife talks about her husband’s addiction being a family of origin problem. Then she says, “Nor was his healing alone!”  

I still feel like I sit on the grass on that church lawn seeing a resistance to the supernatural or what is not “reasonable” by Western standards—anything we do not understand or can’t measure. I don’t want to waste my energy with wishing, denying or being possessed with naïve illusion. Jesus talked about His Kingdom that placed a lot of leverage on curiosity and creativity.

So where would be find some of that?

In the 1960s, there were revivalists and healing evangelists who prayed for legs to be lengthened. Later, a spread of specialists prayed for the filling of teeth. What seemed to me to be ridiculous, was a genuine experience for people I knew. There have always been “healing specialists” who were frontier people willing to risk to market answers and God’s redemptive power. For example:

Some of my friends and acquaintances have lost their taste and smell post-Covid. I am asking God to anoint a tribe of healing-gifted Jesus-Followers to speak His healing into those Covid-19 Long-haulers. I don’t visualize tent-meetings or a 4th window at McDonalds for drive-through praying. I am asking God to strategically place these pray-ers in churches, fellowships, coffee-gatherings—wherever there is a need and people risking to ask for healing and faith-ers who will speak to and on behalf of God.

In our rationalist age, that sounds silly or crazy. Jesus said, “Proclaim the good news of the Kingdom and heal the sick” (Luke 9:2).

  • Curiosity.  Where are people hurting, stuck, oppressed or in bondage?

  • Creative. Listen when Holy Spirit says, “Let me tell you how.”

  • Courageous. It is not the “healer’s” boldness or faith. Courage is born of our empathy that grows into action—the sight and sound of those who are empty or hurt that motivates us to speak healing.

“Pray ye the Lord of the harvest to send laborers…” (Jesus—Matthew 9:38).


©2021 D. Dean Benton