Monthly Archives: December 2021

The Leaf is Out of the table

“Looking a lot like Christmas is over—fa ala, la, la.”

The guest dog’s toys are put away, living room vacuumed, cookies packaged for sharing, dinner leftovers divided for later meals and trash taken out. 2021 Christmas was different.

The leaf is out of the table. Now, back to routine beckoning  and planning for the next year. Adventure, journey, challenges.

Traditionally for me, the time between Christmas and New Years Day has been used to position my files, calendars, planners for the new year. During these days, I have focused on what seemed to me that vision God has for the next months—where our energy and planning should be.

A friend said she should not have wasted her money on planners the past 2-3 years. Planners are different in purpose and content than calendars or journals.

With all that going on in my mind—at least subconscious mind—my planning has seemed to be a border-line questionable use of time. The tell-tale indicator of soul uneasiness moved me toward search for something to satisfy a hunger that I could not find, a source of a fresh thought or bright feeling that evaded me.

I found part of what I was searching for. I hadn’t listened to a message from a preacher or a conversation that ignited my thinking for too long. I tuned to a YouTube sermon from Pastor Bill Johnson:

He talked about disappointment. I paraphrase some of his thoughts.

  1. Bitterness, regret and disappointment change the way we see ourselves and the way we approach the future.
  2. Disappointment dislocates us from our purpose and future, including God’s plans for us.
  3. Some hide behind disappointment when in fact we blame God for being absent, ignoring us or not being faithful to His promises.
  4. Satan and his crowd focus on our disappointments to derail us.
  5. We lose our capacity to dream when disappointments are ignored and not processed.

Of course, I was disappointed that the Chicago Cubs 2021 season was beyond horrendous. But that is not personal to me. It has not affected my income or anything shaping my family or life. But 2020-2021 was and is a trauma. I have to ask what has really made me mad and driven me to doubt or abandon basic assumptions. What feels like betrayal? Abandonment? Assault? Look at the 7 areas of influence: Education, religion, business, government/military, arts/entertainment, media. (Somewhere in there we should include the medical community and pharma.) Any of those arenas/institutions disappoint you? Make you angry, question? What disappointments have set you up to walk away or to settle for something less?

Maybe on the last few pages in our planners or journals we would be well-served to list those disappointments. How will we consider the big, big disappointment—the one that isn’t really true, but we wonder—God you could have done something, but you didn’t!

  1. Say it out loud or write it down.
  2. Talk to the Lord about it.
  3. Have someone pray with you and for your healing of that specific disappointment.
  4. Take communion with disappointment specifically what needs to be defanged. The symbol of Jesus’ blood to cleanse and the symbol of His body to strengthen you for 2022 and beyond.

I have focused on Psalm 37 during 2021. Only recently did I notice that the chapter is bracketed by the word “delight.”

              Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

             Psalm 37:23

When Yahweh delights in how you live your life, he establishes your every step.

My response to those two statements is:

Let nothing interfere with your delight or His.

Staggering to think of The Father being delighted over us and being asked to heal the damage done by disappointments.

Happy and free New Year.

© 2021 D. Dean Benton

I will publish the eBook

Seizin’ The SeasonSpace for Sum & Substance

 the first week of the new year with plans to publish the companion eBook

Mining for Reality & ReasonDigging Worldviews

 a few days later.

Sounds of a weary world

Who started COVID-19 and who is keeping it alive as a world-changer is still being debated. The impact on economies, culture, individual liberties and society is alarming apparent.

In 2020, a huge number of the largest corporations CEOs resigned which became known as the “Great Resignation.” In three months of 2021, Eleven and half million (11.5) employees walked off, walked out, and walked away from their jobs.

Thom Rainer, former CEO of Lifeway Resources and a major Southern Baptist voice who is today the CEO of Church Answers, predicts a 20% increase in resignations of pastors in 2022. This is not just related to pastoring, but the role of leadership among all groups and gatherings.

In a two-part Andy Stanley Leadership podcast, Andy interviews Dr. Tim Elmore about the new leadership being called forth. One of the reasons for the Great Resignation is the role of authority.

For a moment, take any possible role of The Far Left and an attempt to overthrow Western Culture from your mind and closely examine the place of authority. The removal of law and police might bean  indicative reaction against authority of any kind in any setting.

People of all stripes and religious opinion are saying, “We are fighting for the soul of America.” In my opinion that war was fought in the 60s & 70s and won by the dark side.

Otherwise, how can we explain sixty-plus million abortions with a willingness of the current political administration in office willing to place all assets on continuing the practice?

What else will explain the role of pornography in mainstream America? Billie Elish is the youngest recording artist to win a Grammy for best album in 2020. She was about twenty years old. Her songs are dark. In a recent interview she talked about her addiction to porn at the age of eleven which affected her view of people and affected her view of sex due to porn’s abuse and violence. She says porn wrecked her brain.

The January 2022 edition of Commentary Magazine leads with a well-studied article about “The New Misogyny” which the author and other researchers attribute to wide-spread access to pornography among the young with 8-year old’s regular access to online porn sites. This article is important to understand the vicious attack on the family, femininity and women.

How do we answer the question about what has happened to teens, especially girls, who are “transitioning?” The Trans Cult is discussed in this article:

The mentally ill on the streets can be traced to a Left-Wing extremist who became a heroine to the extremists of the 60s-70s. She wrote books, was interviewed and spoke at rallies while leading the battle to close state-funded mental health hospitals. When those doors closed, the mentally ill moved to the streets.

The revolutionaries of the 60s insisted God be removed from our society, schools, marketplace and court houses. They insisted the Ten Commandments be hidden with seasonal ornaments in storage rooms of churches and synagogues. The reigning chaos is the result.

The First Commandment of ten is about authority as well as worship.

Honoring of father and mother—(#5) authority and respect are elementary fabric of society. Respect begins and is nurtured at home.

The smash and grab activity is covered in # 8 of 10. Nancy Pelosi can’t figure out where the crime craze could be coming from. Nancy! Nancy! Broken people do sinful, sick and illegal things.  It is not difficult to see the fallenness of humans and the predisposition to sin, No other rational “cause” is needed to hold law-breakers accountable.

  1. You shall have no other Gods before me
  2. You shall not make for yourselves an idol
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy
  5. Honor your father and your mother
  6. You shall not murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery
  8. You shall not steal
  9. You shall not give false testimony
  10. You shall not covet

Not all of America’s Founding Fathers were Jesus Followers or Committed to Yahweh. They built America and the Constitution with God’s laws as essential infrastructure regardless of their personal religious beliefs. It is no surprise that the removal of the girders caused the structure to crumble.

Can Yahweh be kicked to the curb without His laws being weakened or also dismissed? What is going on in the world 2021 is the inevitable conclusion of the 1960’s conquest. This civilization now is lawless. Just because Progressives declare that God is gone or not important does not mean there is no spiritual void or vacancy by his absence. In my opinion, spiritual law and power currently controlling the 7-Mountains of Influence comes from Baal whose primary spirit arch angels are Jezebel and Ahab. Jezebel was the Queen of Israel, wife of King Ahab, but the Bible speaks of her as an age-less spiritual being—1 Kings 17-21 and Revelation 2:18-29.

Please note the heavy talk about Post-human and Trans-human entities in our current world. Hybrid humans–a replacement?

On December 22 the next episode of The Matrix will appear in theatres and on HBO. A question surfaced the other day:

“How can I disconnect from the Matrix? What people don’t realize is, you cannot be free from fear, hate, depression, anxiety unless you first become aware that this system is designed to keep you that way.”  Gavin Nascimento

The Matrix is a good symbol for the “world system” the Bible speaks of. Darkness, blindness and bondage. The blue pill is powerfully seductive—just let me have life as I want it. Like all things of God, the choice is ours to make. If the Bible is to be trusted, (I can’t find the snark icon.), we have evidence that nations can make the decision. Maybe, the hunger to return to “normal” is part of that decision? “Just hand me the blue pill.”

Robert Kennedy, Jr. has a new book on the shelves which is in its 7th printing. No mainstream media outlet will take advertising for it. Other than Steve Bannon, no one is interested in interviewing Kennedy and yet the book, The Real Anthony Fauci, is outselling all the other Bestsellers. There may be a serious attempt to bury the book and protect a certain bureaucrat. The Kindle edition of Kennedy’s eBook is available at Amazon for $2.99. I have read the first few pages and am astonished, appalled and angered. Kennedy lists 70 footnotes in the Preface to undergird his contentions. I am convinced!

Psalm 37 is the biblical base for my latest two eBooks which are soon to be published. I was trying to explain to Carole, in a few words, all that Kennedy says in those first few pages. Lying on the table in front of me was a printout of Psalm 37 which my eyes fell upon during my heated comments:

“Do not fret because of those who are evil

    or be envious of those who do wrong;

 for like the grass they will soon wither    

like green plants they will soon die away.

God’s instruction is: “(You) trust in the Lord and do good” (Psalm 37:3).

I shudder when people say, “All we need is Jesus.” If they mean for everyone to get saved, that is not all we need. If the statement is shorthand for the need to acknowledge and embrace Jesus the Christ and all He demonstrated, displayed and taught, then that is, indeed, all we—the world—needs. We need Jesus and His Kingdom. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33).

From the song, O Holy Night “Long lay the world in sin and error pining.” The “world” and the world system is still lost and needing to receive the provided Savior.

I don’t know that evil doers are going to imminently go away. Doing good includes being aware of your spiritual and political surroundings and live out God’s Kingdom in “peace, joy and righteousness. One of my friends said to me, “It is hard being afraid all the time.” The choice and expanding skill of living in peace, joy and righteousness is challenging, but most beneficial.

All of this is of acute interest this Advent. While the world system is appealing to teenage girls to transition, we celebrate a teenage girl named Mary who is told,

“And the angel came in unto her and said, “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:28 KJV).

There were lots of reasons the World System would say to her that an abortion would solve all her problems—unmarried, father in question, poverty, a politically bad time to bring a child into the world.

I wonder and doubt that we will return to “normal.” I am, however, not without hope. I celebrate the Messiah who came to live among us. I will also celebrate the holidays. From the cradle to the cross and empty tomb, Jesus invites us to relationship with the Father.

Scattered thoughts.

“Christ in you, hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Copyright 2021  D. Dean Benton

Rule # 1

Pre-marital counseling is a challenge. If return could be guaranteed, the couple most often would benefit by having counseling conversations 1-3 years after the ceremony. Before the hard-clad decision to marry this specific candidate, couples should talk through:

  1. What generally triggers anger. The way they express anger. How they fight. How they get over it, come back together, and say I’m sorry.
  2. What is their relationship with money? Expectations about goals, budgets, bookkeeping debt.
  3. Some examples each has of their model of marriage. What does each not like about their parent’s marriage? Their favorite part of Mom and Dad’s marriage?
  4. Sexual expectations.
  5. Role and expressions of faith.
  6. Who gets custody of the dog if you split?

That is not an exhaustive list, even if possible and the right questions. Some “pastoral counselors” lean heavy on topics we need to think through and/or carry heavy scars.

One year after the covenant is “signed” a couple might write down: “What we should have talked about!”

After my wife came home from the hospital recently, I was especially sensitive to Carole’s needs and really glad she had come home. A short time later, I heard her say she knew we were getting back to normal because I was getting irritated with her. (Only because she wouldn’t help me rake the leaves!)

When a friend asked for “wisdom” about marriage, the # 1 relationship rule for couples that repeatedly came to mind as most helpful is from Romans 12:10 NIV:

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Honor her! Honor him! Always. In every situation.

Honoring requires faithfulness, fidelity, cover his/her back, speaking kindly and have your partner’s best interests at the forefront of your intention. Honoring means to keep your mate’s personal development, mission, goals, dreams, ambitions with covenant strength. Never make fun of or diminish in public. Unless you have a death wish.

All of this assumes each of us knows what honoring means. It requires knowing your love’s heart well enough to know how he/she feels honored. That is a good question to ask. “What can I do to express my honor for you in___________” (name a specific).

God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to “keep” it. The traditional wedding ceremony includes the question, “Will you keep…?”

“To keep” means “to protect, to preserve.”

How do you intend to “keep” the person to whom you have given your heart? How will you protect your own heart if the “honoring” gets to be manipulative or destructive? Protecting and preserving are promises to build on.

Honoring one another is a Kingdom rule for all relationships.

Honor one another.

D. Dean Benton

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Trying The Daily Office

I don’t know if I’m depressed, tired, lonely, post-crises depleted or just flat feeling sorry for myself. I can’t even find coffee that tastes good.

Being a soul-tender is important to me. Not to please God, lest He kick me to the curb, but if I don’t satisfactorily tend my soul, I feel crappy.

An acquaintance told me they expected about 70 family members for Thanksgiving dinner. Seventy! And Carole consults the Internet just to seat our tribe. I asked the lady from the huge family if they sat around the table.

“Yes, but not the same table.”

She also said they did not sing this year. When the crowd was smaller, she directed them in singing 3-4 songs each year. With a gathering that large, singing would have been spectacular. The four at our table probably would have been self-conscious. We should have sung anyway!

I need to pray, worship, be touched by music and art, exercise, read and engage in conversation. Seventy is a not a conversation group, it is a crowd. I need a table full of people who like to talk about everything. I think 4-8 talkers of the story-telling variety is about right.  

Time has gotten hijacked—stolen or filled with important stuff. But none, not one, thing on my list gets crossed off. Oh, I have prayed. Short sentence prayers to ask God to be with friends who grieve and those who need God’s attention and healing. I’ve skimmed Ezekiel chapter by chapter. That counts for something, doesn’t it? And severe gratitude for healing my wife!

I ran across a book title that captures my mood: “Go Tell The Bees that I’m Gone.” My bee-keeper friends tell me how our world is dependent on bees for food, flowers and things not usually considered. The book title is upside-down. I don’t have anything to offer the bees. They wouldn’t notice my absence.

King David was faithful to set prayer times. He prayed seven times a day (Psalm 119:164). Daniel, who was a busy, busy government leader of integrity, prayed three times each day (Daniel 6:10). Lately—not me!

Ten or fifteen years ago, we met friends/missionaries for lunch. We were early, so I went to Half-price Book Store. Half-way through the store, a specific book caught my eye. It almost fell off the shelf—“choose me, choose me!” Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter Scazzero. About ten minutes into lunch, John asked me, “Have you ever read “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality?” You can guess how stunned I was.

It must have been in the same time frame I picked up Scazzero’s little book, Daily Office. Clearing a bookshelf this week, I found the book. In that little book, he includes

  1. Silence, Stillness, Centering
  2. Scripture
  3. Devotional reading
  4. Question to consider
  5. Prayer

The phrase “Daily Office” designates setting times aside each day to “do the work of God.” For many of us it is quieting self and centering for a minute or five several times during the day using Scripture, Prayer, Stillness and/or intentional and vocal blessing .

I like warm days when I can sit in the car on a parking lot for an extended period. This “Daily Office” approach assumes we’ve got two minutes, five or ten minutes. Finding a place to warm one’s soul is important as the days grow shorter and elements chill us.

This discipline sounds wooden and lacking spontaneity, but my barren soul needs  stimulation and direction. 

(c)2021 D. Dean Benton