Monthly Archives: November 2022

Another Friend

Five or six months ago I began thinking about the national battle with fear, anxiety, depression, confusion, and low level of clarity. More important, I began to ask how love, joy, peace could be more active, and life-long thinking habits could be redeemed and modified. Not too far into the journey, Holy Spirit became an obvious and direct participant. I aimed at making the “how” to be the concluding chapter in this series of “Mending the Mind.” In the process, my computer crashed and paused my writing for 4-5 weeks and corrupted the thumb drive with all the words.

I plan to camp here for several blogs to talk about how Holy Spirit can be active and healing with our participation. 

Whenever I open this file, my mind goes to a brick storefront in downtown Des Moines. It is raining. A lady stands under the store’s canvas awning and her own umbrella. She is waiting for a counselor/friend. Her friend’s name is Paraclete.

Her friend arrives and they step inside the coffee shop. The two slip out of rain gear and hug. After ordering their coffee, Paraclete says, “I get the message that you have questions.”

“Thank you for seeing me. My whole life feels destabilized, harassed, anxious, stressed, in fear, depressed at times. I want to know why I am floating in these debilitating thought habits. Where did they come from and how do I change?”

The word “paraclete” (paraklete) comes from the Greek word parakletos, which means “Comforter” or “Counselor” or “one called to the side of another.” Paraclete is Holy Spirit.  The name is translated into several English words describing roles and functions in His relationship to Jesus Followers.

Apostle John records The Promise Jesus gave first to His disciples and then to His entire family.

“I will talk to the Father and he’ll provide you another friend so that you will always have someone with you” (John 14:16 Message).

Allow my fiction: What if you were in that Walnut Street coffee shop and you saw the lady and Holy Spirit walk in, what is the paraclete wearing? Holy Spirit is not only a name, but description of His being. He is a spirit. That means He would have to take on human features. Would He be wearing camouflage—large, dark aviator glasses and a hoodie? Would He greet others in the shop as if He knew them? No disguise, just not totally describable. Perhaps, when you looked at their table you saw only the lady talking across the table toward any empty chair—she alone could “see” the Friend?


The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, (John 14:26 Message).

Paraclete is translated, Advocate, Counselor, Helper, Friend, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby, Companion.

Paraclete, the Greek word Jesus used here, referred to a person who came alongside during a time of legal difficulty.” (Google)  

No matter our experience, theology, or dogma about Holy Spirit, we probably are underestimating His role in all things cosmic and eternal including and especially Holy Spirit as a personal life resource.

I can imagine Holy Spirit meeting with world leaders at the Hague or the White House. I can visualise a meeting with Israel and the Palestinians to hammer out a peace agreement. It stretches my imagination, however, to think of Holy Spirit with me in a coffee shop or my office to redesign my mind. The work to be done in us depends upon faith to engage in a life-changing conversation as if He were sitting across the table. In this case, faith is expressed by a sanctified imagination. (“Jesus, I open my mind to your examination and yours alone. No dark spirit, or negative personal conclusions are allowed.”)

Jesus promised Holy Spirit and listed His activities. The Apostle records them in John 14-16. This scenario becomes believable and probable as Jesus uses the words, “Friend,” and “Helper.” The descriptive action of Holy Spirit is, “Coming alongside.” Holy Spirit never says, “I’ll just meet you at the church house.” His assignment and desire are to come alongside us, especially in the dark hours and in the storms. It is also helpful to visualise Holy Spirit laughing. Friends laugh together! Holy Spirit is more than an office worker and an agent to take it on the road. He has feminine characteristics, but the Bible refers to Him as “he.” Although a spirit, He is a person, not an “it.”

Jesus’ use of the word Friend is a filter and explanation. I don’t understand the logistics of Holy Spirit coming alongside both you and me at the same time, plus multiple millions. How does He do that? Does He outsource those tasks to subordinates or angels? Does a true friend delegate the elements of friendship to a subordinate?

Holy Spirit—however He does it—comes alongside when we invite Him during anxiety attacks, depression, panic attacks, loneliness, burnout, toxic imagination, unrealistic expectations, and as we sift through memories and quick trigger reactions and assumptions. He is the Creator and re-creator which expands the image of transforming us into new.

We are told to “be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” Is that like running our minds through a wood plane—take off the top layer? Or is it like digging peppercorn out of lunchmeat? Brushing two coats of paint on an old board? Let’s tweak our perception and think “Redesigning our mind.” That is how radical brain specialists are about brain neuroplasticity.

Months into this pursuit, two conversations have convinced me I’m not chasing weirdness. David Sax, author of The Future is Analogue, was interviewed on Art of Manliness.  Rather than life and society becoming more digital and limited emotional contact, the Pandemic Shutdown showed us we depend upon touch and interaction with our spaces and people. Creativity dropped, as did productivity during stay at home lock downs. Creativity and productivity are dependent upon synergism of conscious interaction and serendipitous sightings, and hearings. Isolation walls the creative mind away from synergistic possibilities such as seeing something momentarily that stimulates a separate thought totally removed from what stimulated the “new.”

The second conversation was Elon Musk talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) being more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Anything that dilutes or interrupts human must be regulated. He issues warnings about the merging AI into the human cortex and limbic system with no oversight or regulation—AI could kill 90% of us in a short time. 

Jesus became human. We do not need to augment humans and diminish him/her. (We may be seeing exactly that through 21st Century technology.) The Gospel and Kingdom calls us to immerse ourselves in the qualities of humanity. This is not a new dimension of Tinker Toys. I’m seeking Holy Spirit resources to make me as whole as Jesus.

©2022 D. Dean Benton

To follow: Holy Spirit–Advocate-Counselor, Comforter,  Helper, 

My Church Softball Career

Git’R Done

(This article popped up on the computer screen when I brought it home from the repair shop. Don’t know the date it was written. I can’t get last week’s thoughts to display, but the decade-old drama is available? Odd.)

When Coach Justin ran out of girls to ask to play, he wanted to know if I wanted to play softball with the blue team. Strange that my name has never come up while he put together the roster of the red team.

It has been a long time since I hit a ball and then ran. I’ve been to the batting cages, but there is no running in batting cage baseball. I run on the treadmill almost every day. But hitting a ball and then running is not just about eye-hand coordination. Add another component. I was swinging, hitting and running in front of people to whom I want to look moderately capable—No! That’s wrong. My real goal was not to look like a doofus. A solid grounder to the pitcher doesn’t send the center fielder back while looking over his shoulder.

The pitcher is a lady who I’m sure is a grandmother. Steve, who was drafted to pitch for us, contends she is a great-grandmother.

I can hear my grandson saying, “You gotta be so proud! You got a hit off a grandma. You hit it all the way back to the mound? Papa, was she throwing heat?”

Amanda can stand at the plate, never take the bat off her shoulder and she looks good. But “cute” isn’t going to get it done for me—even if I could! Several thoughts raced through my mind as I was not racing toward second base: Will they bring the oxygen tank out to me? What if I have to slide? Am I going to break an ankle, or even worse: start my slide too soon and stop three feet short of the bag?

I think it was Snoopy who said, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose…until you’ve lost.”

To this point, my Church softball career has centered on cheering for the good guys, making sure no one drops over from dehydration and praying after the game. After the team high-fives the other team, Justin motions for me—like a manager motioning for the relief pitcher. “Now, coach?” (Pray-ers don’t get to spit or scratch.)

Praying after a game is not as easy as you might think. If we have lost, God knows I don’t really want him to bless that other team, but I don’t want to sound ungracious! If we win, I don’t want to sound patronizing. I appreciate a good play regardless of who performs it. I just appreciate it more when the right guys make it. I want my prayer to be uplifting to the losers and say words that celebrate fine playing while resisting calling fire down on an umpire who made some really bad calls.

One Tuesday when we had lost by a football score margin, I walked onto the field to pray. I stepped onto the field and felt something I wish I knew a sports psychologist, so he/she could explain it to me. That feeling compares to stepping out of an air-conditioned room into 90% humidity. The feeling was palpable. Until someone explains that to me, I’m thinking that winning and losing has an energy component.

I was in the dugout one evening when that heaviness was pervasive. We were behind a couple of runs and everything our team hit, regardless how far or how hard, seemed to be laser-guided to a defensive player. Then someone got a hit and the energy polarity changed. The atmosphere in the dugout changed. The spirit of losing left. Everyone began to hit. Our team won big.

Winning matters! Even after all those well-meaning clichés: “It is all about having fun.” “You have to learn to lose gracefully.” It matters! It isn’t all that matters, but it matters. A winning spirit does not mean winning every game. It does mean that losing doesn’t threaten your sense of self or measure your value as a person.

How do we build a winning spirit in our young? How do we maintain the winning spirit in ourselves? How do we Git’ r Done?


Check out the bridge connecting Barcelona and Paris. Bridges are structures that connect the spots. Winners continue to ask, “What’s going on here?”

Dr. Will Miller says in his Refrigerator Rights book,

“Helping ‘stuck’ people to change is slow and tedious work because too often they cannot or will not make the necessary connection between their personal wallpaper—assumptions, expectations, and experience—and the problems in their lives. They don’t, and often don’t want to, understand where they are and how they got there. Without that understanding, they can’t make the changes they need to live happier and more fulfilling lives. (24)

A double play is one of the prettiest plays in baseball. A grounder fielded by the second baseman to the shortstop covering second base to first. Fluid, seamless, effective. Dane and Justin can turn a double play nicely. One of the threats with bang-bang plays is starting to throw the ball before you catch it.

My grandson is playing a baseball tournament this weekend. He plays several positions. He is catching this weekend. Too many balls are getting past him. He is asking, “What’s going on here?” He is learning how to shift his weight to block a ball in the dirt rather than reaching or lunging for it.

Winners spend a lot of time learning correct footwork, how to shift your weight, how to offset weaknesses and watching game films with someone who knows how to do it right. Several years ago, the Cubs had a good-looking center fielder who struggled, got hurt and didn’t measure up to his obvious potential. A reporter asked manager Dusty Baker if the player was going to play winter ball to correct some bad habits. Dusty said, “It’s his career. He is responsible for his talent. It is up to him.”

An important realization:  It’s up to me.


Two questions dominate the Day of Pentecost and the entire book of Acts.

  • What does this mean?
  • What shall we do?

If you’ve been around young Blake you know that his favorite word is “Why?”


What do you know?

What do you love?

Grant Wood left Iowa for Paris to make a name as a painter. One historian says “Wood’s separation from his native landscape was a shearing of his soul.” (Sweet) William Shirer was in Paris working as a journalist. Shirer from Cedar Rapids and Grant Wood knew each other from school days. Later Shirer would broadcast from Berlin and then write Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. But in 1926 in Paris, the two were unknowns.

(I don’t remember where I was going with this.)

In 1971 Bill Joy was voted most apt to wear a plastic pocket protector. He describes himself as a “no-date nerd.” He knew math, and biology. At the age of sixteen and a college freshman, he stumbled into a new building in Lansing where the University of Michigan housed its computer. Computers not as powerful as your laptop required full rooms to house them. Bill Joy was hooked. He programmed until he fell asleep at the keyboard.

Many of the basic programs that allow you to email your friends or search the internet were written by Bill Joy. He didn’t know what he loved until it was invented.

The Proverb says, “Teach a child the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” A literal paraphrase is, “Find the way a child is bent and help him go there.”


Malcom Gladwell says of Outliers like Bill Gates, The Beetles, Bill Joy, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and fourteen Americans of the seventy-five wealthiest people ever to live, “Those are stories of how the outliers reached lofty status through a combination of ability, opportunity and utterly arbitrary advantage.”

If you want to git r done, find an atmosphere framed by YES! where people living in Kingdom life set goals, make plans with men and women who look for reasons to say “Yes! Go for it!”

  • People who know you well enough to evoke your abilities that grow out of what you love.
  • An environment where people will give you opportunity.

“I’m ready, coach.”

©2022 D. Dean Benton

The Mute Button

A post from a ministry partner: “I had a dream that may involve you and your world: something is not right.”

Of course! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you! I’ve been using lag screws and an impact wrench and still nothing feels secure or stable. Any instructions beyond, ‘ice it?’

When instability is everywhere around us, where shall our mental stability come from?

I don’t know the difference between worldview and mindset. Maybe it is macro and micro or one informs the other. Over several weeks I’ve been wondering what pillars we need upon which mindsets can be built.


Carol S. Dweck whose research on mindsets reignited interest in the power of mindsets, says “…the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life.” Your mindsets and worldviews will determine what you anticipate, expect, seek and reject.

She teaches that there are two kinds of mindsets.

  • Fixed Mindset. This mindset assumes we enter the world with all the skills we will ever have.

“Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you only have a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character—well, then you better prove that you have a healthy dose of them.”  Mindset, Carol S. Dweck, (Ballantine Books, 2016), Page 6

  • Growth Mindset. Mindsets are similar to worldviews: what we believe determines outcomes. If you believe that God does not work miracles, you will not recognize one even if it arrives at your front door via Fed Ex. If you check “Mindsets” at Amazon, you’ll find most titles include the word Reset. Ms. Dweck’s research shows mindsets can be changed. 

“The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents, aptitudes, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience. …it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.” (Mindsets, Page 7)

A mindset is what we habitually look to for our assumed thought pattern or action to take when confronted with instability, lack of clarity, or shortages—or abundance. A mindset determines our life-energy commitments and what we need to learn to prepare us for our goals, callings, visions.

“Take your son, your only son—yes Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering…” (Genesis 22:2).  

I don’t remember the town or church. I do remember the single mother who told me after the event that she was ready to take her young son and leave when I announced I was going to talk about Patriarch Abraham’s fatherhood vision and practice. She was geared to run if I started talking about God testing Abraham’s faith. She didn’t want her son to hear the story and jump to any conclusions.

And Abraham set out to do just that! Not exactly the model and design for parenting. Except what Abraham said to his son, Isaac sets the tone for healthy thought and “mulling” things over.

I was directed to Watchman Nee’s  Changed Into His Likeness. The pages are falling apart, but Nee speaks to me as he talks about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am sometimes attracted to Ishmael rather than Isaac. While Ishmael was an adventurer, Isaac appears to be placid, acquiescent, passive. And in that life approach he seldom asked questions or questioned anyone or anything.

“The only question Isaac asked was, ‘Where is the lamb?” The answer is full of meaning: ‘God will provide himself the lamb.’ That is the life of Isaac. We ask, and the answer is always the same: ‘God himself will provide.’” (Nee)

God will provide!

Diesel? Peanut Butter? Direction? Stability? Heat? Essential groceries? Pepsi?

And Abraham picked up the knife…At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven… ‘Don’t lay a hand on the boy!’ Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by his horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means the Lord will provide) (Geneses 22:10-14).

“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2b)

Knowing that mindsets and worldviews either determine or reflect depression, anxiety, burnout, and a list of defeats or errors, I am increasingly thinking that Abraham’s answer is the essential word of faith: God will provide!

Abraham was not passive about anything. Isaac was not neglectful, but he was passive. So, how does this providing work? Is God a partner or patron?

Have you ever wondered what Abraham did first after hearing instruction from the angel? Did he cut Isaac loose first, or did he get the animal? God provided the lamb, but Abraham (with Isaac’s help?) got the ram out of the thicket and prepared it for sacrifice and then wielded the knife.

Are you hearing Holy Spirit suggesting something? What change in your thinking is required to change automatic response to stimuli or what added knowledge will you need? There is the ram (Provision) caught in the thicket which will remain there unless we move it to an altar. That altar will look like study, classroom, talking to people who know. It may have worked for Isaac to not ask questions, but it will not work for us. The more questions you ask (of the right sources) the larger the provision path grows.

Most people do not examine or question their worldviews. Mindsets can be changed. Think how changing a mindset will impact other thinking patterns. A mindset or a load-bearing pillar that is trending in my soul is “God Will Provide.”

We worked in a Nebraska church for a couple of one-niters and a weekend event. The weekend was scheduled during a difficult farm growing season. The scuttlebutt in that small town was about a Pentecostal farmer who had placed a bushel of corn in the corn bin as a faith offering. Church people who did not understand “faith offerings” ran the gamut from making fun to charging the farmer with magic practices and belonging to a cult.

Anytime a Jesus follower chooses to stretch the acceptable norm, we risk being misunderstood, or worse. God will provide, as an approach to life has to be defined. So here is how I define “God will provide”:

  • Direct deposit, which would include things like a ram caught in a thicket.
  • Insight/eyes opened to a provision that has been available, but just not seen.
  • Opportunity: A door opens.
  • Meeting or interaction with someone who makes an observation or suggestion or affirmation that leads to resources.
  • Instruction to search something out, or read a specific book or article, perhaps listen to a podcast or program which trips the switch. Holy Spirit may nudge us to talk to someone or to ask a specific question.

All these things, and more, can be the action of God in provision. Provision is about outcome. Watchman Nee makes a couple curious comments:

“…That is the life of Isaac. We ask, and the answer is always the same: ‘God himself will provide.’ Everything that is demanded, God Himself gives: that is the experience of Isaac. In Abraham God sets up the standard; in Isaac, He shows us His storehouse.” (Changed into His Likeness, Watchman Nee ©1967 Christian Literature Crusade page 75. Now published in Collections—The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, ©1993, Living Stream Ministries).

A neighbor brought us fresh cookies she had baked. Talk about provision! She texted us to tell us about cookies and that the doorbell didn’t work. She had to be wrong about that—the doorbell is relatively new. I removed it and changed electric outlets. Nothing helped. Then I saw the “mute” button. Other than at Halloween, when would we need to mute a doorbell? Muting a doorbell contradicts the whole purpose. I turned off the mute button and it now rings loud enough for the neighbor to hear. Let the cookies come forth!

Speaking “God will provide” is not a magic formula. Making it a primary mindset turns on “the eyes of my heart,” “the ears of my heart,” and Kingdom energy—creativity. Such a positive mindset is your faith-statement of how you see God, and how you believe He functions as Father. How He does it is not my concern. If there is no thicket near-by, God is not stymied.

Turning the Mute Button off


©2022 D. Dean Benton,   Wonderer & Meanderer