What if we missed a turn?

Third in a series of five.

I want to know the content of my worldview. I want to know how I discern Reality. I want to know the philosophies, teachings, doctrines and propaganda in competition. I’m inviting you again to listen in to what I am discovering and what needs to be reassessed.

A reminder. Worldview…

“In Western nations—From earliest childhood, Western people are trained in deductive reasoning; we draw conclusions based on rules of logic to guide our lives. The presuppositions of our society encourage us to think this way. The assumptions of most Eastern, African and South American societies do not.”  (Wimber)

Word and phrases like assumptions, presumptions and the following draw pictures of how we interpret the basic fiber and laws of the world.

“Our worldview is like a lens; it colors, clarifies, classifies, warps or partially excludes the world. It is, in Charles Kraft’s words, our ‘control box of reality.’” (Wimber page 125)

We acquire paradigms—thinking patterns—through which we interpret experiences (or data) from our parents, the media, art, education. Some are conscious and other unconscious. Most paradigms are like the huge catfish lying on the bottom of the Mississippi too big for a man to lift. When the new bridge was built across the river in our town, it was said that workers found catfish big enough to swallow a person. They are quiet unless threatened like worldview elements which will protect themselves. Our worldviews are our way of understanding reality.

When I wrote my Stress Management seminar and book, You Can Control It, I talked about worldview without knowing or naming it. I talked about phrases that we heard that stuck in our brains and in some measure motivated behavior. Think about, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. How about, We don’t discuss family business outside the family.

I’m looking and listening to the words I heard when young that became a filter to relationships and evaluation of people and events. Like those catfish, worldview components just lie there a lifetime unless an upheaval hits us like an emotional hurricane. Given that, let’s look at how the average Western Civilization civilian views the world in this time frame—in this season that seeks to dismantle us.

With the Enlightenment era came three main ideas: Reason, Scientific Method and Progress. Those thinkers believed with these three dominant, guiding ideas, they could build better humans and societies. Other thinkers did not always agree, nor did the Common People fall into line. That kept the guillotine busy and the prisons full. But that elitism and mindset remains.

In recent decades no one has escaped the impact of Rationalism, Individualism, Materialism and Relativism. Together they birth Secularism which as a package is taught in all school levels as the mutually exclusive source of Reality. The package of four have captured the modern Western Civilization mind. While personal worldviews are caught rather than taught, students and consumers of news and entertainment are taught these:

RATIONALISM

Rationalism, or a belief that we come to knowledge through the use of logic, and thus independently of sensory experience, was critical to the debates of the Enlightenment period, when most philosophers lauded the power of reason but insisted that knowledge comes from experience. (Google)

One of my images of God is Him standing in front of large marking board—black or white—and beginning His presentation of Reality with…

“Come, let us reason together…” (Isaiah 1:18a).

There are at least three kinds of knowledge. The kind we gain 1) intellectually, 2) observationally and 3) experientially. Intellectual knowledge alone seldom changes minds or changes lives, only when observational and experiential knowledge is added do people begin to consider accepting new information as potentially a life-changer.

I was pastoring while going to the university. The church or the parsonage had a water issue. The property people came by one evening to track water lines. One of the men “witched for water.” He used a certain piece of wood looking like a large Y. He held the wood in front of him and scanned the ground. When the witching tool crossed a water source, the tool bobbed up and down. I recall it was accurate. Ironically, the next day in French Class, someone talked about witching for water. It was surprising, given my experience the evening before. I had never seen water witched and had to tell the French class. It is totally unreasonable and clearly not scientific that a piece of wood could nod where water could be found, so my classmates moaned and hooted at my non-scholastic views and opinion. I still agree with them, but I saw what I saw—stone sober.

Rationalism is the model of churches of the last century. Even evangelism was and generally still is, based on an intellectual approach. Worship services were designed to lead up to the main event. The sermon. When Pentecostal churches and then Charismatic gatherings saw emotion-involved worship as a better way to do church, the more intellectually-driven churches and pastors got really nervous. Those of us who used Campus Crusade’s Four Spiritual Laws format or booklet warned us that reality was about facts to which faith would respond. Feelings were a mere caboose on that train. In recent years facts have not lost importance, but emotional involvement has found a rightful place in healthy settings. (There is still craziness around!)

The scientific method gets a lot of air-time these days. In Western Culture, knowledge and solutions are provided only by science. Politicians of a certain brand tend to name science as the only source of truth. Perhaps you’ve noticed that only one acceptable “science” is considered legitimate in this season.

INDIVIDUALISM

Reflecting on studies comparing “Self-reliance” during the Great Depression and how students experienced the COVID Pandemic, the generations practice of self-reliance empowered our parents, while the inability or unwillingness to develop self-reliance hobbled our children and grandchildren in 2020/2021.) Dr. Tim Elmore in his book, The Pandemic Population (2020) says,

“(During the Depression) Adults trained kids to be self-sufficient yet interdependent, frugal yet charitable—an interesting mix that seems to be missing today. (P.19)

Individualism is good or bad depending upon the politics and worldview of the person describing it.

“Individualism places an emphasis on independence and self-reliance, and with it the desire to control everything—people, things, events and even future events. Thus, the individual, not the group (family, clan, community) reigns supreme.” (Wimber)

Socialism and Marxism find self-reliance and individuality undesirable. Those governments build on communes and dependence on a centralized government. I think that this is the basis of Mr. Obama telling business-owners that they did not build their business on their own.

The True North movement and Small Group movements over the past four or five decades have been about building community in response to isolation. A man presented me his current dream and projected plans. I asked the man about his competition and where was he looking for heads-up warnings and positive ideas. He hadn’t and he wasn’t going to. His “individuality” was built on pride and fear of not being adequate. Self-reliance is the ability to take what you have and survive until you thrive.

There is a homestead movement in Western nations—moving to the mountains or plains to literally build their own home and farm or ranch. My wife takes notes on homestead ways on cooking, raising sheep and how to hang drywall. I don’t get why she refuses to strap on a nail apron when I tell her that the garage needs to be roofed. Self-reliance is a good thing and part of free-markets, capitalism, self-satisfaction. Genuine self-reliance is not about attempting to control everything and everyone. It is not refusing instruction, advice or assistance. It is the opposite of depending upon the government.

MATERIALISM

“…nothing exists except matter and its movement and modifications; only what can be seen, tested proved to be real.”

From materialism comes the pleading to depend upon science and trust only that which survives the laboratory tests.

RELATIVISM

“Relativism denies that there are absolute truths, making all “truth” dependent upon personal experience.”

You hear the expression of relativism when people say, “That may be your truth….”

SECULARISM

The list and quotes come from John Wimber’s study. He says…

“Secularism is a lethal combination of the above; the idea that we live in a material universe that is closed off from divine intervention.”

“We live in a pluralistic society that is skeptical of any objective truth—whether scientific, religious or philosophical—as a way of understanding reality. Thus, post-moderns believe there is no ‘true truth’…” (Power Evangelism, John Wimber & Kevin Springer, Regal Books ©2009).

Those are the teachings of recent decades. Those ideas have brought us to where we are in Western Civilization. With the influence institutions denuding itself of tradition and nation-building values and virtues, I’m wondering about John Adams’ statement:

“Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Where will Secularism take us? Restrictive Totalitarianism.

!  !  !  !

This article comes from the studies and writing of John Wimber, Tim Elmore, Charles H. Kraft. On his podcast, Dr. Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education, reads from an article by Andrew Sullivan which I found illuminating.

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5tZWdhcGhvbmUuZm0vYmlsbC1iZW5uZXR0LXNob3c/episode/NWYwNjM3YjYtZWYwMi0xMWViLTliMmEtNzcyZGUxOGQ5ZDBj?hl=en&ved=2ahUKEwi31rucq4byAhUKPK0KHTp_C94QjrkEegQIChAF&ep=6

Two more Benton Blogs follow:

  1. What is a Christian worldview?
  2. What is a Kingdom of Christ worldview?

D. Dean Benton

Avoid Being Shark Bait

Shark advocates are appealing that the word “attack” be changed to “interaction.” The headlines will now appear as, “Lost an arm while interacting with a shark.” Can someone tell those advocates targeted meat cannot request a dialogue during an interaction. Sharks don’t like to chat with their mouths full.

I’m an advocate for correct grammar and accurate word usage. The Bible says in the last days,

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter (Isaiah 5:20 TLT).

I’m not sure we are in the Last Days or what to do about it if we are. I want to know how we got here. I didn’t have it on my calendar. Scholars say Westerners are building their view of reality on a value-less world. One way that plays out is street-dwellers, homeless, addicts and rioters are given all the room they want while assuming they should have the right to express themselves.

My larger question is why is there no outcry and no insistence about potty habits and stopping burning other people’s property or looting. Why? How did we get to be a value-less culture?

  1. S. Lewis wrote what has been called the most important work of the 20th Century. The Abolition of Man was written in 1943. It is neither a Christian Apologetic or mystical novel. It is about the necessity of self-evident Objective Values. Without a common grasp of Objective Value, sometimes referred to as Objective Moral Value, Abolition of Man is predictable. Lewis says the decision to be value-less demands some value upon which to base that very decision.

God led me to an interview on Art of Manliness Podcast titled “Men Without Chests.” The conversation speaks to this subject precisely. https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/podcast-723-men-without-chests/

From my armchair view, when our culture determined there are no absolutes the end game became predictable. Judges 21:25 captures where we are:

“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”

When Objective Value is abandoned or killed, subjectiveness reigns. Everyone makes up their own truth, morality, god and permission to do what they want to do. Jesus said that would mark the Final Days. This is not the first time this behavior has dominated cultures or the world. (“Lawlessness shall prevail…” Matthew 24).

I do believe God is just and He requires His people to practice justice. I’ve been working at figuring out where and how I learned that. So, it would be true for me that my worldview, like everyone else, started collecting parts and pieces long before I went to school. Is God really a “rewarder of those who faithfully serve Him?” Is that component not only real, but true? Is it not only True, but Real?

How do you determine Reality? REALITY? In this season, there is a smorgasbord of options of what is projected to the masses as Real. This is my quest. I thought you might like to join me in my search—look for some lights along the way; see if there were spotlights to direct our paths. At best, my thinking can only be a shorthand edition. My intent is that you will want to pursue the subject on your own journey to understanding how you perceive and determine your reality and what you base Reality upon.

Charles H. Kraft’s books have been a resource for me. He is an Anthropologist, Christian and a teacher at Fuller. When someone referenced his book, Christianity with PowerYour Worldview and Your Experience of the Supernatural, (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1989) it was not in my library. Most of his other books are. Why not this one? Avoidance of the subject? He writes first about worldview and reality in generic terms, only then does he speak of a Christian worldview. This is not rhetoric or dogma.

Kraft outlines what influences our understanding and grasp of REALITY? These are spotlights that focuses our minds to determine Reality.

  1. Our Worldview, which is the most important in our pursuit of REALITY and reality from which our concept of truth. Our worldview is not constructed by polling world news, history or acceptable community patterns. It begins with the people, events and our reaction/response in our home and within our tribe. I heard a couple teaching about parenting and Secure Attachment. An hour later at Walmart, I saw a young father talking to his three-year old who was sitting in the shopping cart seat. He was talking to her while holding her face in his hands. According to the teachers he was building Secure Attachment in her brain and heart. The little girl was building a section of her worldview. Someone will teach her not to get naked on Main Street and poop in an intersection, which will also be part of her worldview. Not just for her, for all civilized people.
  2. Limitations of Our Experience. “I will not believe it unless I see it!” That is a major definitive rational thinking pattern in our culture. Kraft says, “All of us are hampered to a greater or lesser extent in our attempts to understand the experiences of others that we ourselves have not had.” (Page 21). Western Civilization interprets the world differently than the rest of the world. People in Nigeria, Kraft learned, are opened to the spirit world because they have seen how Dark Spirits can ruin lives or make life painful. Even after accepting Jesus as Lord, the Nigerians turned to their native spirit-guides when they needed powerful spirit impact. They had seen the evidence. Christian leaders could prescribe Western answers while the Nigerians saw a different Reality. They had seen the spirit world. Kraft said he had no experience with the spirit world with which to offer help or power. Before we reject something, we may want to ask, “What don’t I know and what have I not experienced in relation to the question?”
  3. Our Personality or Temperament. A preacher-friend’s granddaughter heard him preach about Jesus walking on the water, which she wanted to discuss. “Can you walk on water?” the grandad asked the four-year old. She replied, “Not yet!” Her calculation of Reality is going to be different than a pessimist or self-doubter. Kraft says our viewpoints are affected by predisposition, motivation, degree of openness to new ideas and how change is experienced. A friend recently felt betrayed. Betrayal has been a reality for her, so when the recent events occurred, it opened access to decades of other betrayals. Her temperament has adjusted to how she perceives the reality for her—she is going to be betrayed—count on and build defense mechanisms to fight back or protect herself.
  4. Our Will. Our image of Reality will inevitably be assaulted or challenged if it contradicts the culture we reside in. Let’s consider the four-year old’s experience of REAL. She is somewhere in her thirties now. If she continued to believe she was going to walk on water for three-decades, she would have to do it or change her beliefs. The will to believe can be stubborn unwillingness to face facts. But then, if she chose to believe that her failure did not affect Jesus’ experience water top, she has set her will toward reality. Our will impacts our perception—the will to consider changing our point of view, but not a larger perception.
  5. Sin. “Human sinfulness affects every aspect of the way people perceive and respond to the glimpses of REALITY they see.” (Kraft page 22). God does not “mete out” punishment willy-nilly. The Ten Commandments, for example, are the result of God looking at REALITY as only He can and concluding this is the best way for a human to live. Breaking these carries its own punishment. I keep thinking about the summer riots of 2020. Listening to reporters from the streets, they experienced the rioting as dominated and functioning in the power of a different Reality that adopted rebellion, deathly motivation, commitments to evil and/or evil spirits.

Let’s pursue that

It is possible to be locked in to an evil or closed worldview.

“…the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

Another condition is referred to in scripture as a reprobate mind. A phrase among Americans: “God is not even on my radar.” I know people who have never been to church. Their knowledge of or about God is negligible and their interaction with Him is extremely passive. In contrast, a person with a reprobate mind has an active relation based on rejection and rebellion.

“Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done” (Romans 1:28 NLT).

The reprobate mind is no longer able to consider God or God’s truth after passionate and prolonged rejection of God’s voice and words about Him. A person with a reprobate mind has become blind to the truth and unable to think beyond their commitment to a dark truth or demonic influence.

A quiz in Reality.

I like teachers. We have teachers in our family and among our close friends. I have witnessed the tears as teachers told us about kids they teach that are not thriving and my teacher-friends cannot break through or provide resources. I have listened as they considered quitting or retiring—giving up. I do not see aggressive, passive or ignorant spirit-murdering in them.

The past few days we have heard news reports that a portion of the money bill re: infrastructure, will go to finance re-education and rehabilitation of white teachers who are “spirit murdering” black and brown students.

Question: is spirit-murdering a Reality? Look at your answer—determination of your reality. What role did your 1) Worldview have? 2) Experience or lack of it? 3)Temperament? 4)Will? 5)Current relationship with God? Who is the Abolitionist Teaching Network talking about? What is the fruit of either conclusion?

Another question. What about the masses entering the USA by crossing the southern border? Is there a crisis? Humanitarian? Legal? Child abuse? What criteria factors into your Reality? Is that objective or subjective? What would you conclude about the role of Reality—objective values—who have a motivationally different view of reality?

Christianity makes a big deal about TRUTH and REALITY because the Bible does. To hear that we begin to build a worldview pre-school and much of it remains intact through life unless we experience a life altering game-changer. How many classes or sermons have you heard about that offered resources to rebuild that no longer feels valid? The conflict in Western civilization is about worldview and Reality from which we make decisions about truth. Should we not have tools to sort out what is true and real? I do not want to be shark bait!

My purpose is not to change your worldview. My intent is to shift your paradigm and mine from a Me-centered worldview to a Christ-centered worldview and then to adopt and grow into a Christ-Kingdom worldview and perception of Truth.

©2021 D. Dean Benton

Examine Your Worldview

“You may be a Southsider if you remember….”

I was invited to join the above group. I am a Southsider—from the southside of Des Moines. We have talked about geographies, landmarks, people and events that shrouded my life 8-18. SW 9th and Leland is two blocks north of Mom’s restaurant. That corner is still there, if not Vi’s Café. There was a supermarket on the SW corner, on the SE corner is a Methodist church. On the NE corner was/is Noah’s Dry Cleaners and in the 1950s an ice cream parlor filled the NW corner. One of my Southside friends posted a picture of the ice cream place. In the courtyard between the storefront and sidewalk was an operating clock—8 feet tall.

That clock impressed me when I was ten, and decades later it fills my memory, experiences and education. A Gospel song says, “Time Has Made A Change in Me,” and the evidence pushes forward in how those stores, schools, streets today are anything but matches for the pictures from my youth. And that clock keeps clanging—or it would except it is also now gone, which points to the point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZh6jm1Dsj8

For several years, I been asking how two relatively smart people can look at a situation or historical event and describe it in contradictory words. In recent weeks I’ve been listening to news reports and conversations, reading commentaries on world events and hearing reports that contradict what I know to be different. How is that possible?

It may have been a dream, perhaps a daydream or something even more weird. In my mind, I was on the front lawn of Ft. Des Moines Methodist Church staring at that clock across the intersection. A word dominated my mind as I stared: worldview. I wondered how the days around that business neighborhood affected my worldview in the years following. Then! Almost like a surprise, I heard another question—what was my worldview that filled my first ten years?

“Worldview” had no significance for me until I was in college and then I resisted the concept. The concept seemed an easy way to box up beliefs and then dismiss them or trivialize them. I grabbed onto teaching about Reticular Activating System, which has a physical location in the brain stem. I am not educated in science of the brain, so my conclusions and opinions grow out of my experience, observation and minor-league research.

Reticular Activating System manifests in day-to-day experience by blocking out what we do not believe. If we don’t believe an answer to a problem or need will show up, we would not see it if it were delivered to us by Fed-Ex. Quite literally. I’m learning that R.A.S. is connected to worldview. This is important because our worldview impacts or determines faith, politics, what is right/wrong and whether you are involved in ministries of miracles, signs and wonders. No kidding.

What we now see is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I now know is only partial; then it will be complete—as complete as God’s knowledge of me” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Worldview: “A set of presumptions (or assumptions) which we hold (consciously or unconsciously) about the basic makeup of the world.” James Sire.

Charles Kraft has been influential in my thinking in several areas of study. He defines worldview:

“…our worldview consists of thousands of assumptions we hold concerning time, space, causality, relationships and even how to classify the data of life.

“When things happen to us, we assume that either there was a cause or that they happened by chance. Some life experiences can modify one’s worldview but, barring life-altering events, one’s worldview changes little.” (Charles H. Kraft, Confronting Powerless Christianity, Chosen Books, 2002, page 29)

John Wimber adds:

“Every society has presumptions. Some are conscious, but most are unconscious. We acquire paradigms—thinking patterns through which we interpret experiences—from our parents, the media, art, education and so on. Our worldview is like a lens; it colors, clarifies, classifies, warps or partially excludes the world.” (Power Evangelism, John Wimber, Kevin Springer, Regal Books, 2009. Page 125).

This discussion is not just about how we interpret the Bible or whether we see angels. The current cultural and political discussions about gender, Socialism vs. Capitalism, education, race, and religion is guided by diverse worldviews. The attempt to change America’s history is driven by a different worldview. The brutal facts are that many cannot see or hear or think what their opponents are saying due to their differing worldview.

Charles Kraft’s larger definition of worldview:

“…culturally structured assumptions, values, and commitments underlying a people’s perception of REALITY.  Worldview is the major influence on how we perceive REALITY. In terms of its worldview assumptions, values, and commitments, a society structures such things as what its people are to believe, how they are to picture reality, and how and what they are to analyze.  People interpret and react on this basis reflexively without thinking.” (Christianity With Power, Charles H. Kraft, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1989, page 20)

Kraft speaks as a Christian and an Anthropologist. He says only God fully knows REALITY. However, everyone has a perception of an objective REALITY and we make it our own—a  subjective reality.  We assume everyone accepts our reality as REALITY and when they don’t we also assume they are crazy or evil.

SO WHAT? !!

The current battles waged for America’s future is about worldview—how shall we determine REALITY? Whose reality will be empowered and enthroned as the official REALITY?

Back to the SW 9th & Leland intersection. I was aware that my worldview had been impacted by the age of ten by my parents’ divorce which shook my securities and how to process events, experiences, eventualities. Worldviews motivate, explain and draw lines usually without our awareness. Until and except for life disruptors that throw us into serious, life-changing questioning mode. Things like—

  • Abandonment
  • Abuse
  • Assault
  • Betrayal
  • Choices
  • Deficiencies
  • Disappointments

A worldview can be adjusted with new information that we intentionally consider. God’s direct revelation to us may stimulate us to change. The books above were written to show worldviews determine whether you will accept and work in Biblical Spiritual Gifts in the 21st Century. I have also learned that we will be most effective in evangelism if we understand the worldview of the person with whom we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is possible to be locked in to an evil or closed worldview. Romans 1:27-29 speaks of a “reprobate mind.” Worldviews have consequences for this life and the next.

For a long time, we suggested people use the Wesley Quadrilateral when seeking if something were true: Ask what Scripture says on the subject. What does Tradition say? How about Reason and Experience? These are no longer adequate for those who doubt the veracity or have a different understanding of the words. Over the past half-century, our society has been taught mental and philosophical systems that have changed the way reality and truth is determined and lived out. There appears to be only one acceptable worldview in present education, media, government, entertainment and in portions of religion. Those arenas are where worldviews are learned.

As you know, I am not an expert in this, but it seems serious enough to demand conversation and study, perhaps change. The books referenced above would be chosen resources if I were to teach a class or lead a discussion.

In my next post, I will talk about the four most dominant influences in today’s worldview structuring.

How important is truth? Truth?

©2021 D. Dean Benton

This post comes from my ebook Seizin’ The Season, chapter 4—“Don’t Hunker Down in Dismayed.”

Restoration

Perhaps the preachers I listen to get together to compare notes. The weekend message was/continues to be, restoration.
Monday morning a guest on Wild at Heart podcast described an acquaintance who “fought for my heart.” (Sounds like a John Eldredge phrase.) What does “fighting for my heart” look like?
One of my preacher/teachers has been preaching through the book of Job. Yesterday he finished the series with chapter forty-two. Job’s 3-4 friends sure didn’t fight for his heart! God’s acceptance and embrace restored what Job had lost in the battle of good vs. evil. I’m also thinking about restoration of what we never had in hand, but God wanted for us.
Our ministry has news of a man whose resume includes prison, drugs, emotional needs and a family populating the road to hell. This man needs a restoration of what he never had and cannot build alone. The young man approaches being a Seeker. He needs someone to fight for his heart—someone who will walk beside him during his anxious days and pour into him God’s acceptance and the Good News—redemption and restoration—which I define in these terms:
Embrace, Encourage, Equip, Empower, Heal, Launch.
“Pray ye (literal translation: ‘ hey you, YE, yes, you’) that the Lord of the harvest will send workers into the field” (Matthew 9:38).
Restoration—Bringin’ It!
©2021 D. Dean Benton
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Splashdown

When we pastored near Chicago, portions of Methodism was abuzz with the Lay Witness Mission. Our church sent over 40 to share their Christ-following stories. These “witnesses” traveled to inviting churches in surrounding states.
The space program was in high gear. We adapted the phrase, “Spashdown.” The people returned home and gathered with 15-20 who celebrated their experience and their weekend ministries.
We listened to weekend experiences, asked questions sang, prayed, ate munchies and praised God. Of that group one or two became pastors; others developed ministries and gave their talents and gifts for use in industries and local churches.
At the heart of those Splashdown events was Marilyn and Gary Hansen.  Hansens moved to Ashville, NC and then to Wilmore, Ky. Through all of the moves they served on the Board of Benton Ministries, Inc offering wisdom, support of every kind, loyalty and tons of encouragement and vocalized affection.
The past two weeks have been filled celebrating the life, faith and family of Marilyn Hansen. After decades of serving several churches as executive secretary and establishing a Caring Ministry and becoming a hospital chaplain, she went home to be with Jesus. I have fixated on her arrival in Heaven as a Splashdown event—home from another place.
I’m assuming the Lord placed Psalm 68:6 on my mind as descriptive of our 50 years with Marilyn: “God places the lonely in families….
A Rusty Goodman song came as part of that welcoming time:
As you go down your list of firsts, there’s no question
We’re gonna want to see our loved ones awaiting me and         you
And when you feel you’ve shared your story with the last           one
That wants to hear you tell, just how you made it through
Look for me, I’d like to hear it too
I realize when you arrive, there’ll be so much to view
After you’ve been there ten thousand years, a million,                    maybe two
Look for me, for I will be there too.…
While Marilyn told her stories of God’s faithfulness, we told stories of her battle with Parkinson’s and the challenge of writing a book of those battles and her mission. “Broken Unto Wholeness,” (Marilyn Hansen, ©2019—available from Amazon).
Thank you, Marilyn for your obsession with saying thanks and telling your story and talking about Jesus.
©2021 D. Dean Benton—one of the tribe of “I’d like to hear it too.”

Reaching the Rim

When the announcement arrived that my great-nephew was graduating high school, I began to wonder what book he would most enjoy and benefit by reading. He is a “great” nephew—that is not just about relationship, but description. Finally, someone in my family has grown a kid who plays basketball. He has been dunking since the 8th grade. My own experience of coming from a lifetime of not being first choice for a pickup basketball team, my response is, GREAT! Definite NBA material.

I was nudged to buy Robert Benson’s The Echo Within some years ago. I was to buy ten copies to give to those whom I would be instructed. The next day, we visited a book store 100 miles from home. The book was on sale which was financially convenient. I’m down to two copies, so I’m careful whose name I hear.

Robert Benson says,

I am not a big talker on airplanes. If you talk too much, you have a hard time keeping your teeth clenched in fear. I mostly scribble in my sketchbook while I am hurtling through the air in a huge machine that has no business being this far off the ground. The man (next to me) made a couple of attempts to talk to me, but I was up to the “Just as the time came for us to stand in the aisle and wait for us to get off the plane, he asked me a question. He cleverly deduced this was his last chance to make me make conversation.

‘What do you do?’

Something about my beard and my ponytail, my eyeglasses in a style most commonly associated with folks who led the Russian Revolution, my lack of socks with my loafers even though January had just begun, the bush jacket, the purse, and the sketchbook had suggested to him that perhaps I was not a businessman.

“I am a writer,” I said.

He got this grin on his face. ‘I knew you were a something,’ he said triumphantly.”*

I have a long history of listening to sermons and speeches. The best graduation speeches conclude: Grow up to be a something. Accomplish something. Be known as the person who is a somebody because you make others feel like a somebody and because you resource them and encourage them to accomplish something.

You got this, Connor

©2021 D. Dean Benton

  • The Echo Within, Robert Benson, ©2009, (WaterBrook Press) pages 159-160.

Forgotten?

I’ve been thinking about Sophia. She was my mother’s roommate in a physical rehab hospital. We were visiting Mom. While there, I was given papers to sign and date. I asked the date. From Sophie’s bed came her first words spoken to us: “March 12.” After papers were signed, dated and dispatched, I walked to her bed and said, “March 12 must be meaningful to you.”

“March 12, 1938—the day Hitler and Nazis marched into our country—Austria.”

Over the next weeks we met her friends. An eclectic group. Sophia was legally blind, and still lived alone in an apartment where she baked Austrian delicacies. She was not allowed to return to her home and we sat next to her bed or walked with her as she wept in despair. Upon release from the rehab for a broken hip, she moved into a Jewish convalescent home, where we visited her. We loved her and were fascinated by her great gifts and her huge friend base.

Sophia told us her story. Her father, mother, brother and sister-in-law were in medical work. They were all sent to Auschwitz. Sophia survived.

On one of our visits with Mom, Sophia was having a hard day. We stood and sat next to her bed. “You are praying, aren’t you?” When we asked how she knew, she said her closest friend (no family left), a Catholic Nun came to visit her and prayed for her. “She made the sign of the Cross on my arm.”

As we left that day, I told her we shared a mutual friend.

“And who is that?”

“Yahweh.”

“Ah.” In the deepest sorrow, she said in broken, mournful voice, “I think he has forgotten us.”

The anti-Semitism spreading in our country impacts us with the vocalized pain of our friend. I thought we fought that war, settled that issue, resolved not to forget. Has the world begun reverse evolution?

Lord, in Your mercy and kindness, do not forget us in the hour when we most need You. And for the extended families of Miss Sophia, we ask for Your presence!

Copyright 2021, D. Dean Benton

(This story told in Gone To Southwood, D. Dean Benton, https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DDeanBenton

Who Needs Wings

After three days of early mornings, late nights, hard work, heavy lifting, no room for relaxing or deep breathing, I awoke early this morning and decided to sleep in. Five-thirty. So I made coffee with no gumption to do anything else. By mid-morning, I realized the most exerting and exciting thing I had accomplished was taking out the trash and making a second pot of coffee.

Stephen Mansfield suggested we ask staff members or friends (who can be trusted with a sharp object) to give us some insight on us to help us become better peers, leaders, family, friends:

What is my greatest weakness?

If you could remove one habit or tendency of mine in order to help me lead better, what would it be?

What is most off-putting about me?

What about me is most likely to cause me to fail?

What is something I like about myself that isn’t serving me well as a leader?

Before I put myself in that probable prospect for pain, I thought I should go onto the porch where the warm sun is and read for a while. Fortify myself. A perfect book for a day like today is Population: 485 by Michael Perry. Perry lives in Wisconsin, but he writes in a specific style by adding a comma to the end of each story as he thinks, and sometimes says, “That reminds me of….”

In one chapter, Michael Perry takes us with him on his jogging route and tells the stories of each house and/or people who live there. That’s when I met Herbie Gravunder.

“Herbie was stone deaf. A result, ironically or not, of the years he spent running a rock crusher for the county. And (his cousin) Delmer says in the old days they always pulled the mufflers off their tractors, figuring the louder the engine the more power it had. .

Herbie always had little tufts of cotton sticking in his ears, but then so did most of the old farmers I remember from my childhood. Anyway, what with the deafness, and the cotton, and the flannel earflapper cap he wore most of the time, Herbie lived in a muffled world.”

Herbie was a heartfelt cusser, a hard, hard worker and given to his own imagination for adventure. He bought a hovercraft that wouldn’t hover and a plane that wouldn’t fly.

I got sidetracked by wondering how Herbie and Delmar would deal with Stephen Mansfield’s list of questions. I also wondered what my siblings would answer if I asked them, or my high school friends? Or parishioners. A couple years ago, I saw a parishioner down town. I was wearing grubbies. He said it was the first time he had seen me not wearing a suit. I like suits, but I wear/wore them such a small percentage of time. Perception can be based on a very small sliver of information.

“The truth is, when I head out to run the loop these days, I feel better when I jog past Herbie’s place. Life can’t always counted off or neatly arranged.”

Michael Perry and his brother bought Herbie’s hovercraft at his farm auction. They rebuilt it and invited friends to experience the re-launch. “The deafening, dusty hoo-rah…was:

“…a celebration drawing on the legacy of a man who never let a lack of wings keep him from flying.”

Want to go with me to a farm auction?

©2021 D. Dean Benton

Population: 485, Michael Perry, Harper Perennial, Copyright 2002

Strategic Hubs

Carole and I were watching and listening to a teacher during our devotional time. He was talking about God’s Kingdom and shared what he is hearing God saying.

“‘My Ekklesia kingdom hubs will now begin to see miracles of realignment in people’s lives, government, and culture. This will be an era of miraculous realignment.”

The words that struck me most were, “Ekklesia kingdom hubs.”

Carl George served as director of the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth. His writing and teaching on the “Meta-Church” was built on the idea of Kingdom hubs. His 1991 book, Prepare Your Church for the Future, (Revell) is not just some guy’s idea, it seems prophetic for a time like 2021. The concept sub-title is “Large enough to celebrate, small enough to care”.

Many pastors, prophets, evangelists, teachers and apostles are saying America is on the cusp of our Third Great American Awakening. Without looking for it, I’ve been hearing a lot about revival and awakening.  There is a rising desire for an American Awakening.

One of my mentors was asked if he had ever seen a national revival. He said he had not, but he is desirous to experience one during his time on the earth. What he sees coming is a move of God that impacts our nation.

I’ve been wondering what a national awakening would look like—what the catalyst(s) would be and how such a revival could be shepherded. There have been regional events like the Wilmore, Kentucky college-based event, and historically, the Cane Ridge Camp Meeting revival. The Toronto Awakening comes to mind as does the Jesus People movement. God’s sovereignty is the catalyst in those as described as a “visitation.” God’s presence came in a dimension that was fresh, stunning, frightening. God “visited” and people were awe-struck.

An awakening creates an atmosphere where a general population receive an idea of God’s true nature and character—I think it will come in terms of His generosity of grace and what His judgement is about. Dr. Karl Menninger’s book title came to mind, “Whatever Became of Sin?” An awakening grows out of an awareness of personal and national sin that desperately calls for personal repentance and gracious forgiveness—grace-ious—because God is not obligated.

This weekend we watched a bio-video of Keith Green, a rock n roller on a search for truth. When Jesus entered his life, Green began to share his story—“He changed my life completely!” Those closest to him said Green was telling the truth. A resistant insider said she didn’t want her life changed. “I was happy with it as it was.”

The Western culture wants to return to normal—few are looking for a Person or power to change life “completely.” Jesus is welcome to come in if He will assimilate, but there are not wide-spread urges to fit into His Kingdom—kingdom come, will be done. How will Holy Spirit initiate that transformation? It is His job.

Over the weekend, we were reminded about the Brownsville Revival—Pensacola. Several years of daily meetings. People visited from across the nation, arriving in the morning to gain a seat for evening meetings. Lindell Cooley was the worship leader during that awakening. He now pastors Grace Church: Nashville. When I went to tell Carole about my experience, she was watching Pastor John Kirkpatrick preach. He was the senior pastor at Brownsville during the “revival.” I promise you, tuning in to Kirkpatrick preaching is not on Carole’s regular schedule. Something is going on here!

The word revival tends to have images and experiences of past generations or our past. The coming Awakening probably won’t duplicate what once was. Not everyone is going to plug into all the music or preaching styles. Like every other age, the awakening will be contextualized—it will speak many languages and fit into different cultures. Like the Day of Pentecost: everyone heard the Gospel in words and tones they recognized and understood.

Kingdom geography has always been about hubs. Not isolated events in isolated places, but in centers to which people traveled and then returned equipped and empowered. Think about the church at Ephesus—a cultural center and a training place. There are many such hubs in our world. I’ve included a link that focuses on what God could be doing related to hubs.

Pastor Cooley’s music leadership moved us from vocal music to preaching with the song,

More about Jesus would I know
More of His grace to others show
More of His saving fullness see
More of His love who died for me

More, more about Jesus
More, more about Jesus
More of His saving fullness see
More of His love who died for me.

Carole asked me, “Are we a Kingdom hub?”

©2021 D. Dean Benton

https://us5.campaign-archive.com/?e=87771728b9&u=21ae4b9aa9f11e4a8320b5ed6&id=9bcaca49ba

Called to be a weighted blanket

Walmart has a sale on weighted blankets. We’ve heard and discussed them. They are comforting—one-sided wombs, kinda. They were recommended during the height of the pandemic. Ten pounds. Got one. Haven’t decided. Ten pounds! The blue comforter may prove to be comforting, I think it is reassuring as I’m waiting for Carole to be bring my warm milk. I reacted to today’s challenges with anxiety. I wanted my blankie.

After thrashing about to find something funny about it, I can see how in fact, it could give a feeling of being embraced.

Award-winning writer, Karen Mains, is writing a new book about listening. She has directed 200 plus “Listening Groups.” Three or four people meet every couple of weeks. The format looks something like this: She invited people from her list of friends. These strangers to each other gather to listen. Karen welcomes and invites them to sit in silence. She gives these directions: One person talks at a time. Fifteen to twenty minutes. No questions, no comments, no advice—listening only. The person finishes, followed again by silence. Then the listeners are allowed to ask questions in reference to what they’ve heard. Silence follows and then another person speaks and the others listen.

David and Karen Mains have a friend from Chattanooga who studies the brain. He told them the brain responds when a person feels they have been heard, listened to and understood. In their podcast, Karen says she cannot repeat all the neurological words, but the brain of the person, who experiences being heard, responds with a “happy dance.” There is physical activity by the brain indicating pleasure.

After the meeting, Ms. Mains asks participants to think through each season of their lives and write the name of the person who “heard” them—really listened and understood. “They got you.”

There is something extraordinary to feel that you’ve been heard. Pastor David Mains predictably named a band teacher. Karen said she cannot remember a time when she was not listened to by someone who cared what she thought and understood. Perhaps not understanding the intricate details, but understanding why she would think those thoughts and how they would be beneficial to herself and others.

And you? Who “got” you when you were five? Ten? Fifteen? Now?

I wonder if the Apostle was hinting at an emotional/mental weighted blanket when he talked about the Armor of God. A grown-up mobile blankie that translates into security and stability? (Ephesians 6:10-18).

After a seminar, a lady asked us to forgive her for not entering into the discussion—most of all, for not offering any suggestions, ideas and opinions. She told us when she was precocious as a pre-schooler. She enjoyed adult conversations. One evening her parents had guests. She was sent to bed. She needed a drink and walked through the meeting room and stayed long enough to ask a question or offer a point of view. He mother put her in a closet for being impudent. She told us she spend many hours, thereafter, in that closet. She learned to keep her opinions and ideas to herself. (This story has a productive ending!)

Many therapists I read and hear say, “We have not yet seen the damage done to youth during the Pandemic lock down.” Isolation has the capacity to make the brain do whatever the opposite of the happy dance is. Trying to live life from behind a mask does not automatically build confidence or self-assurance.

Did you come up with names? A name?

A lady said to her granddaughter, “Come sit with me. Let’s talk.” The child said, “I love the sound in your voice when you say that.”

An acquaintance replies to my question, “How’re you doing?” with “Livin’ the dream.” I’m not sure if she is telling me all she wants me to know or she is being cynical. I do not have her permission to ask more questions. Within your scope of influence working hard to “hear” someone is an aggressive act to build strength and confidence in them. How would you like for that to be your legacy? I was a weighted blanket. Even better—I help those close to me feel heard—I get them.

© 2021 D. Dean Benton

For the David and Karen Mains podcast: “Before We Go”  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/tell-me-i-want-to-hear-i-want-to-understand-before/id1483224036?i=1000515129056