All posts by bentonquesthouse

About bentonquesthouse

Husband, father, grandfather, singer, songwriter, seminar leader, pastor. A provoker. A reader and writer of books. http://.www.bentonministries.com

An adventure you haven’t heard

There are 526,492 (plus/minus) podcasts currently available—at least that was the count when Kim Komando last reported. I listen to several of them regularly. Malcom Gladwell’s podcast is one of my favorites as is The Art of Manliness.

The author of a new book on Apollo Eight tells the story on https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/podcast-426-the-daring-odyssey-of-apollo-8/ It is fine radio—compared in my mind to the “days of yesterday when out of the west came….” Except it is real. Neil Armstrong said it is the biggest story of the space program. It is certainly high adventure!

Listening to this story of astronauts, I remembered several men and women we encountered when we worked in a small town just north of Cape Canaveral. We worked there 4-5 times and got to know several in the space program. One of the men told us stories of extreme stress. He said each day a space engineer would keel over. From others we learned about the wild-west living of the early astronauts. Lots of sports cars, fast driving, wild living. Apollo Eight was manned by extremely brilliant and normal men.

Frank Borman was captain of Apollo Eight. One of the unique characteristics of that mission is that it is the only one where all the marriages lasted. The rest of the NASA program was riddled with wide-spread divorce.

One of the NASA families we met included the man in charge of retrieving the space capsule from its landing spot and returning it to the Cape. The first time we talked, I asked him about a normal day. He said he would tell me about that particular day. “I went clamming.” He said he knew if he wanted to stay healthy and be available for the next mission, he had to take days off when his body hinted at overload. He talked about his physician son in South Carolina and his family. He chose personal trajectories carefully.

The podcast and the book are well-worth checking out. Call to adventure!
©2018 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Question, Dilemma or Provision?

From Meanderings—Swapping Road Stories with Abraham’s Tour Group. (Published August 1, 2018): Chapter 34

For a touring group/ministry, transportation is critical. The vehicle is not just to faithfully get a group to their next appointment, it is home and sanctuary as well as beast of burden to carry equipment and product. When we were in a distressing vehicular problem, I dreamed we would acquire a bus and we would know it was ours by a red stripe on the sides—front to back. It was a GMC 4106. We prayed that we might find it, have the funds to buy it. In our great need, God had spoken, we believed, it was a done deal, we believed. You would have laughed at us or cried at how pathetic we were. If we met a bus on the Interstate, we would lean out of our van windows looking for a red stripe. We found one in a parking lot in Ohio—bright red stripe. I whipped around the block to claim our bus. Up close the red stripe was the only quality it had. Vision or not, we never owned a GMC 4106. We did own a GMC motorhome with purple stripes. Like all our travel vehicles, it is the source of painful, costly memories.4a

This week I have been rechecking editing before sending the manuscript to the formatter. I lived through those days that can be described as agonizing, fearful, hopeful and tense. Today as I published my blog with a note about the new book, Carole yelled up the stairs:

“Dean! Come down immediately! Hurry!”

On the street outside our kitchen window was a huge tow truck pulling a GMC 4106 with a red stripe on the side. A bus that size or style has never been on our street, let alone one with red stripes. I couldn’t get my head wrapped around what was happening. My brain was buffering. Was it being delivered to us?

I don’t want a bus, have no use for one and couldn’t afford it even if it were a gift. But its presence on our street indicated something odd was going on. I ran out to help them park it on the lot across the street. Didn’t want them to scratch it—just in case.

There it sits. I don’t know if it is there to taunt, haunt or bless us. Carole said, “That damn bus is going to sit there and torment us.” That tells you how serious those days years ago banged on our souls. We did laugh when she said, “It was being towed by a tow truck. That should tell us something.”

After the tow truck left, I walked over to touch it—not unlike the many times I placed my hands on buses to claim them for our ministry. I checked it out like parents look over a newborn. Just being next to the bus felt strange, unexplainable.

I laughed with God because the book Meanderings is about hearing, deciphering and understanding God’s voice and how to interpret it—what God was telling us. All I could say was, “Lord, what is this all about?” There was no parting of the heavens today any more than there was in the long ago.

Local dream interpreters say when evangelists and clergy dream of vehicles it usually indicate feelings or revelation about ministry—ministry size, impact or potential. A dream about a bus or ship might indicate growth or a miraculous provision.

It seems to me—this is not a provision, it is an affirmation. I heard that, but I don’t know what it means. Yet! That bus was delivered to us—not to possess, but to consider.

36 hours later. Bus is still there. Someone joked that it is my chariot coming to carry me home. I don’t think so! If my chariot will need a tow truck…the joke won’t be lost on me, but I’ll be disappointed. I seriously doubt that the chariot to carry me home will have “Trailways” bleeding through layers of paint and have 36 seats inside and a low front tire.

If this were God’s provision, it would be an Eagle or Provost with a beautiful mural on the skin. Unless someone hands me the keys and says, “This is yours,” it will not have my name on it. That bus showed up hours after I had written about the dream & vision concerning such provision. I conclude it is about affirmation and healing for a time when a GMC 4106 with a red stripe was significant to us. It sits in an odd and unusual place to speak to me about a time when we acquired questions and wounds that need healing and correction.

The timing makes the bus delivery meaningful. Meanderings has just been sent to the formatters. The purpose of the book is to share the stories of The Father of Faith hearing God as an example of how we may hear, recognize, discern and obey God’s voice. Is this a satanic taunt? My concern is this will be another “What was that all about?”

What it is not about is a bus. It is about whether God speaks to individuals about things that matter in real time, real life. If the Abrahamic Covenant is operational, is it useful? Does God speak? Instruct? Guide? Provide?

I settled that in Meanderings—Swapping Road Stories with Abraham’s Tour Group. I think.
Available August 1, 2018

©2018 D. Dean Benton—Writer, Wonderer, Meanderer

Stuff to Report

I’ve been concerned about a fella I’ve known for a long time. His ex-wife says she still thinks of him as the smartest person she ever met and always expected him to be a U.S. Senator.

I’ve been concerned. Haven’t heard from him for too long, so I wrote to him.

“How you doing? What’s going on in your world? Be in touch.”

That has always been adequate to provoke him to ask about gas prices, temps and whether the grass was growing in addiction to a massive political report. Several months later, he replied,

“Not much to report”

Not even a period at the end of his response.
I’m still concerned, now more so. He is isolated; he has cut himself off from even his quirky friends.

On a tour, I was invited to a men’s breakfast. About 20 of us showed at a restaurant. The waitress knew the men’s orders by heart. Besides a couple of clergy, the group was made of the communities of military, medicine, education, marketing, inventors, government and men running for state and national public office One man’s wife is running for mayoral election. You might know a couple of them. Several millionaires among them. A man who dressed off the racks of Salvation Army has invented electronics you see in TV newsrooms and military staging areas and the White House.

At least one Jewish man. About 70-80% are Jesus followers. There were no studies or guest speakers, just a serious prayer of food blessing and conversations.

The room was filled with a quality of caring and joy I carried to the car. It wasn’t a Bible study. Nor was it a banter session of put down and muscle flexing. A gathering of gentlemen in an atmosphere of bacon, eggs, oatmeal and testosterone.

I have not been in such a gathering. Just being in that gathering made me feel better about myself. Most of them welcomed me verbally and heartily asked me to come back next time I was in town.

Every time when I have felt or said, “Not much to report,” it was the results of absence of breakfast with such men. Stephen Mansfield calls it a Band of Brothers. Others call it Tribe or Pack. Eating breakfast alone is not good for me and among a couple of other things breakfast with some of the boy is what my friend needs.

I promise you: when Jesus gathered His friends for breakfast on the beach it was one of the most empowering and important times in their lives.

Want to grab eggs and coffee with grits or oatmeal?

Have I got stuff to report!

©2018 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

An Embryonic Idea

I’m sure they are out there, but in all the protests and screaming, I have yet to hear an idea, solution, strategy how to handle the 600,000 illegal immigrants who enter the USA each year. Nor have I heard a suggestion what to do about the 20,000 children and teens who are roaming our country from Central America. Incidentally, of the 20,000, only 2000 came to this country with their parent(s). “…ripped from their mother’s arms” is predictable incendiary rhetoric.

“Unaccompanied minors.” That phrase has unsettled me since I met some “unaccompanied minors” in the aftermath of the Sudan crisis.

“There was no place then, and few places ever, that offered a more stimulating environment for creativity than Florence (Italy) in the 1400s” (Leonardo da Vinci, Walter Isaacson)

With the modeling done by the Guinness family, A British soap company (Lever Brothers-?) and the Cadbury people during the Industrial Revolution in Ireland and England, I have an idea. It is embryonic. Those companies built villages for their employees with a plan for improving their hygiene and ability to build a life. They attempted to touch every aspect including education in every aspect of life.

The Creator of the universe has not run out of ideas, especially in the areas that Jesus declared redemption and creation. (Isaiah 61 & Luke 4) With a vision of a 21st Century Florence—“stimulating environment of creativity.” I also refer you to Greensburg, Kansas. We did 2-3 extended meetings there as well as a couple one-niters. When the city was destroyed by tornado, they rebuilt it with a vision for the future. Technology and the electric grid underground, for example.

Looking at the crowd on any day trying to gain entrance into our country, how can we tell which ones of those kids are the “best” that President Trump says we want? Some have not been parented. Most have not been tutored and prepared for life in our culture. We are given the opportunity to shape them and train them to become the best. We cannot forget that in those crowds are some of the “worst.” This sounds like a ridiculous hope for utopia. More than that, in fact, it is battle for the souls of the lost and for the soul of our country—the City on a Hill.

A vision keeps coming to me—I cannot say where it comes from. I see new cities and villages and renovated rural towns not just to house, but to heal, train, educate and teach community. Others have tried this—(ie. the high rise buildings in Chicago). As smart as Americans are, we can learn why they didn’t work and then build on their purest ideas.

Perhaps, a better approach is to go to the source of the problem. Take all this to Central American nations—“You shall bless the nations—Genesis 12) Not to colonize sovereign nations, but to plant resources, leaders and a vision of economics, education. Plant the 7 Mountain vision. What about Daniel in Babylon? Joseph in Egypt? Early Christians in the Roman Empire?

I am waiting for the results of the weekend call for people to leave their churches if the pastor didn’t address the border situation. The “call” sounded like a demand to attack our government and president. My inclination is to issue a call to leave churches where spiritual leaders do attack the government and president. Leave to establish communities that will build. Let’s make Isaiah 58 our stimulation.

Let’s announce to the world with the 7 Spheres of influence and authority (legal and military) that this is who we are and if you want to come to USA, then this is the path to participation. You are welcome to become one of us. If you see yourself being assimilated into our values and society, then bring your best tools, ideas, culture. We don’t need for you to try to change our country into Honduras or El Salvador. We want your best traditions and skills to make us better. If you can see yourself in that role, then come join us and work for the American dream.

One of my mentors said to his children, “If I start swearing, run! My choice of vulgar language means I have run out of ideas and ability to rationally communicate.” Some of the current actions and language in our country on both sides of any conversation is described in that statement.

In our legitimate defense of what we treasure, we have allowed the American vision to grow dim. The opposition is about deconstruction—tearing down. How shall we stand against the invasion which the southern border is only a symptom?

It is an embryonic idea. The Creator/Redeemer is found in the Kingdom of God, of which the Church is a local outpost. God works through the Kingdom and Kingdom people.

Your idea? Your suggestion: what amendments to this? If this experiment of “by the people…” what will you contribute? If building a new city is not possible, how can your segment of the Kingdom do it locally? Perhaps God has brought you to the Kingdom for a time such as this!

©2018 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Will Spiritual Awakening Touch North Korea?

In case you didn’t know.

• World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse were founded by Bob Pierce in response to post-Korean war orphans. Pierce left nothing of his life on the court—perhaps foolishly. His total commitment to mission cost him his marriage, his ministry, his family and his health. He was attached to Korea with his last breath. His daughter wrote an insightful biography: Man of Vision, by Marilee Pierce-Dunker.

• The Korean Orphan choir came to our city in the 50s-60s and some came to our church—as I remember. Pierce brought the choir to the USA to build awareness and support. I have been curious about the spiritual state of Korea since then, and when we started working in churches that shared their buildings with Korean congregations—then when Pastor Cho and his church became a world-wide sensation. Then the Methodist Korean church in Seoul, Korea became huge by any measure.

The Korean Church has been graced (“You shall bless the nations….) to teach us about prayer and evangelism. Twenty-seven thousand missionaries have been sent from South Korea to cities around the world. The mountain top prayer gatherings are a phenomenon. There may be some, but I know nothing in USA to compare.

Some weeks ago, I sensed that Kim Yong Un had a spiritual awakening and wondered if that could be true and if so, how. A pastor from South Korea filled in blanks for me. Before the Korean War, North Korea was the spiritual center of Korea, experiencing awakenings and revivals. When it became evident that the war would change North Korea, the pastors went south. They became leaders of what became the SoKo mega-churches, while the NoKo communists destroyed the church buildings. The Church went underground to sing silently and to whisper their prayers.

In the early 70s, the North Korean government was collapsing. The SoKo churches built an evangelism plan to take supplies and the Gospel north. A central leadership of all denominations built a plan to plant—replant—3000 churches. The collapse did not happen—I think it survived because of China’s intervention. The SoKo churches worked on their plan of taking the Gospel to their families and fellow Koreans for four years. The plan is still in place.

In a Christianity Today interview, the SoKo pastor said that every SoKo church prays in every public worship event for the North and for government leadership.

The freedom in SoKo has brought a huge economic lift. Lance Wallnau tells mighty stories of his leadership conferences and God’s call to business and government. Many of your high technology devices are from Korea. Many business leaders are Jesus people.

This very well could be Korea’s time for breath-taking conversions—beginning with Kim Jong-un. It will take some time for NoKo to break out of the slavery mindset, much like Israel coming out of Egypt.

We know Koreans. They are uniquely wired in the Spirit. We have talked to Koreans in the USA on assignment and have heard them sing and pray. They are especially graced for evangelism and making connections. I sense beneath all the horrors over many decades, there is a Kingdom foundation that is soon going to push through the surface.

How does a born again Kim Jon-un make that public? How does he make restitution? Who will disciple him? Soul-stirring to contemplate and pray for.

Jesus, we celebrate the foundation of belief in North Korea. I speak Kim Jong-un’s name to You. Holy Spirit, however You work the redemption call and conviction, we invite you to enter his world and secret heart places to reveal the Father, the Son and Yourself. Thank you and praise You for commitments that no one should perish. Let it be so!

Dean dean@deanbenton.org

What I’ve Heard this Morning

1. Research shows the best thing that a father can do for his son: Hang out with him. It is during the hanging out time that values & virtues are shared and teaching moments occur. The kid learns he is important and valued. The kid learns that what he thinks and wants to do is important. That, of course demands a certain kind of dad.

2. Sixteen percent of USA population has IQ of 85 or lower. That restricts what can be learned and how they must be taught. Some is genetic connected. IQ is not static. EQ can be a dynamic life-enhancer.

3. Head Start was a disappointment. Those enrolled in the pre-school level had an early advantage, but by 4th or 5th grade it had disappeared. The non-academic by-products of Head Start were measured. The enrolled in Head Start were more apt to graduate, go on to college, not get pregnant and stay out of trouble. Studies say the reason is the socialization.

All of that is attainable and without great financial cost. All we need is families and leaders with a vision of and for the next generation.

D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

More at Stake

The 7 Mountain Mandate has an odd beginning. In 1975, two major leaders of youth movements were to meet for the first time. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ and Loren Cunningham of Youth With A Mission (YWAM). On the night before their meeting, each man had received a message from God, both about the same subject. Bright was shown 7 Mind Molders and Cunningham was told about 7 spheres of influence. (Google this for more info)

Lance Wallnau picked up that thinking after a conversation with Cunningham—as I remember.
The spheres were listed as:

Business—including medical community
Government
Media
Entertainment—sports, movies, television, music
Family
Education
Religion

Wallnau draws seven mountains and says the people & movements that control the top of each mountain determines the narrative and influences, if not controls, culture and other mountains. The 7 Mountain Mandate has expanded and now has many leaders and distractors. The thinking behind this movement makes sense to me. The most fascinating element is Wallnau’s calling them mountains and nations. His suggestion is that Jesus’ command to “Disciple nations…” is about geo-political regions and these seven spheres of influence.

God told Abraham that he would “bless nations.” It was prophetic and a command.

I saw the picture and read the words of Robert DeNiro at the Tony Awards. He used the f….word twice to express his hatred for President Trump. His raised fists and his facial look was an expression of hatred. The audience of entertainers applauded and congratulated DeNiro.

Which influencers are molding the minds and dictating the narrative and attempting to solely control the actions of the other “Mountains”? Media and entertainment.

When we say that “The church” or “Education” is under attack, who is the attacker? Where did the money come from to fund the high school march?

The challenge is to influence or be the mind molders. I do not want Religion to control the six other spheres. Either Islam or Evangelicals. The commission to disciple nations includes running for political office. Look at the attack on those who carry a contrary message or interpretation. The attack is guttural, brutish and without restraint. Not many are willing to put family, reputation, and every piece of life on the line. God does work in government. He puts a Joseph in a powerful place. Note that Joseph was empowered because he was qualified.

South Korea is a bright example of Christians influencing business, education, government, ect. We met a Korean couple who talked about the prayer practices of the Korean church. They go to prayer at 4:00a.m.. The lady said, “When we hear about people who go to prayer at 5:00, we assume they are backslidden.” The comment was accompanied by laughter and indication of how seriously they pray.

God has imbedded each of us with purpose, mission and passion. Some of us are called leadership in one of the 7 Spheres. The consequences are horrendous if we refuse or neglect.

There are Americans who are hoping for a failure in the Korean conversation. Others are seriously desiring an USA economical collapse to drive Trump out of office. They are willing to sacrifice everything we treasure to destroy the people they hate.

There are reasons to pray for the Korean summit. There is much at stake. And hearing God’s voice calling you to discipling nations.

©2018 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Re-membering

There is a bird outside my window singing as if the whole state is his audience. I’m betting 86% of its body mass is vocal cords. I thought he was talking to me, but the little bird uses some of the same words to harass the squirrels. It is an odd little bird. He is convinced his job is to build nests and to sing.

On this Memorial Day weekend, I’m wondering if we should be celebrating and remembering what we are meant to be doing. I have just finished a manuscript on hearing the voice of God and discerning what He is saying.

I was introduced this weekend to a man from Trinidad. It took us a bit to find each other’s vocal rhythms. He heard that I was a writer. He wanted to know what I write about, so I told him about my latest book on Abraham. After I talked for a while, he asked me what conclusion I came to—about Abraham. I didn’t have a quick answer. Lots of question about the first Hebrew, but I wasn’t looking for a conclusion as if I were writing a thesis that needed a proven conclusion. I just wanted to know how Abram and individual family members heard the voice of God and choose to follow Him—obey.

For over a year, I’ve studied, prayed, read books and Scripture and asked questions. What should we be about? The assumption is adamant: We are called to do what Jesus did. The question asked many times in many ways: how do we access the instruction, hear guidance to specific places and people and how do we utilize the unique Holy Spirit power for this age?

Several writers and speakers have been speaking into me about what Followers of Jesus are to be about. Secular writer, Dr. Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules of Life, seems to me, is God’s voice to the general population of the Western Culture and the generations now alive. His message has rattled many, angered many more and stimulated many of us to say, “hmmm!” Another Canadian, Bruce Alexander, wrote Globalization of Addiction, in which he virtually says, cut off the market for drugs and you will stop the flow. What I have heard from the book sounds like many of the basic principles of family, faith, community, interaction and devotion to calling.

Pastor Bill Johnson’s book, Hosting the Presence, and his teaching has prodded me for several months. He pastors Bethel Church in Redding, California. I have been remembering and seeking ways to re-member Kingdom life. (His two books mentioned here are strong enough to request your attention.)

Pastor Johnson has written with Randy Clark. Their book, The Essential Guide To Healing, stirs memories of Jesus commission of all disciples and the work He did that we desperately need in 2018 and beyond. Given biblical illiteracy, “nones” dominating those being asked which faith-view belongs to them and absence of God’s activity visible to the majority of three generations, nothing less than a radical, drastic and dramatic spiritual awakening will gain attention. Nothing less than an awakening that leads to revival and evangelism of ethnic groups and nations will speak to the destructive elements at work in our culture, families and institutions. The gifts of healing, knowledge, wisdom, leadership and deliverance are basic to the new that must come.

Memorial Day impacted me. To recall that 23,000 Americans died in one day at the Battle of Antietam—also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg (Maryland) Civil War. One-half the number we lost in the entire Korean War—died in one day on American soil—12 hours!

Memorial Day for me has not been to think about what once happened or what used to be, but honoring and celebrating and remembering the values, principles, infrastructure and foundations that are central to Jesus’ Kingdom today and what the Kingdom is about and what Jesus’ followers are called to be now, today in our current civil war. There are many more slaves in the 2018 world than in 1862.

Like the little bird—announcing to the world—we are re-membering what has been rent.
©2018 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Parent Company

Didn’t Krispy Kreme donuts go bankrupt last year? It must have been for protection. Headline yesterday said that Starbucks is no longer North America’s favorite coffee shop. Krispy Kreme is. How and when did that happen? I knew where several Krispy Kreme shops were, but they all closed.
Krispy is owned by JAB Holding Co. This Luxembourg based-company owns Keurig-Green Mountain and said last week it plans to acquire Dr. Pepper-Snapple Group Inc.

Speculation that Dunkin Donuts could be purchased by Paneras’ parent company while JAB Holding company agreed to buy Panera Bread Co. for about $7.5 billion. JAB Holding Co. already owns Au Bo Pain and Peets Coffee and Tea.
Tim Hortons, a Canadian coffee chain, has acquired Burger King and Popeyes. I hear great things about Tim Hortons coffee. I know there is a Tim Hortons in Ft. Wayne, and I have Peets in my coffee safe.

Research concluded that Peets is the best—healthiest and most desirable among dozens of brands with Dunkin (Original) coming in second. The shocker for me was that Eight-O-Clock brand was number one in another test study. It has been winning best taste surveys since 1859. My friends who travel internationally say Au Bo Pain is a winner.

All of this says something about bankruptcy laws and when you buy a burger or drink Dr. Pepper it is hard to know who really is running the corporation. And where do we go to find a Krispy Kreme coffee shop? If it is that good I want a cup.

There are so many layers of ownership and management and diversification. Who is really in control?

A week ago, I was listening to sermon on strongholds and it nailed me. Strongholds are the key component in limiting maturity in Christ. They are targets in renewing the mind. Strongholds appear to be the major block to accomplishment.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 is a manual on getting at stronghold walls and what is hiding or hidden inside. After all the verbiage is defined, it seems to me we are told to work through the layers to find who/what the “parent company” is that controls our stronghold(s).

The arguments, pretensions, disobedience are not outside us, but within protective walls in the soul. They come like grenades over the wall to keep the hidden, secret, stuffed memories or thinking patterns from being confronted by truth. What is the parent company with controlling stock?

Paul says we are to abolish, bring into subjection, punish, take captive. The conflict is against whatever comes against “the knowledge of Christ.” I’m thinking that is not limited to an evangelistic conversation, but grappling with our own self-talk and faith that is not accepting God’s view of us.

We were watching a little bird. It stepped outside the bird house entrance onto a limb and announce its joy. Carole said, “I think that bird is singing over its house.” No argument, pretense, disobedience.

Here’s to Krispy Kreme and to demolished barriers to our thriving and God’s favor.

Copyright 2018 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Church Bathrooms

POSTLUDE
Genesis 26:1-6

Traveling in a van means I changed from traveling clothes into a suit in church bathrooms. I learned to hate men’s church bathrooms. So many of them are back behind the furnace. Seldom is there an adequate mirror, and almost never are there hooks to hang my suit on while I skinny out of my jeans. Lids are scarce. Something is bound to get wet. Men can’t be trusted with carpeting. Sometimes we get a door on the cubicle. You must decide what you intend to do before you enter for there is no turning around once you are in there.

Funny thing about church bathrooms. When they are remodeled, the church spends $6000 on the women’s room and $3.64 on the men’s room. The women get wall-to-wall carpeting, mirrors and Formica. The men get a new pail.
I survived by improvising. For evening events, I would find a Sunday school room, put a chair under the door knob and change clothes in the dark. Having gotten my britches and shirt on, I would turn the light on and use the exterior window as a mirror. Stained glass will not work. With the darkness outside, my reflection shows on the window perfectly to put on my tie, comb my hair, get my mustache on straight.

One evening in South Carolina, after a great potluck, I grabbed my tie and coat, excused myself and headed for the men’s room to finish dressing for the evening meeting. As I reached for the men’s room door knob, a lady standing at the drinking fountain said, “Sir, you’ll have to wait, there is already someone in there.” I thanked her and replied, “That’s okay. I’ll just find a window to use.”

It wasn’t until after I had “used” the window that I realized why the lady got that shocked look on her face, wrapped her cloak around her tightly and backed away from me. She didn’t stay for the singing and concluded some fierce things about Yankees.

Months later, I told that favorite bathroom story on a Sunday morning in one of Iowa’s largest United Methodist Churches. After service, the family was standing at the product table when a man stopped to say he agreed about church restrooms. My mother was standing near. She thought the man said “restaurant” and replied, “I raised him in one.”

There are times when no matter how precise you say things or how hard you try, you don’t get it right or people misunderstand. Families fall apart, fathers fail, mother’s come unglued and children make very bad decisions. Other times all of the above happen on one day before lunch.

We met such a family. After the glass had been swept up and the sticky words had been washed off the walls, a teenage daughter and sister had packed and left. The following weeks were grisly. Lots of tears and regrets. Mom and Dad decided they would go back to church. They arrived at the church entrance at the same time the absent daughter arrived. The usher didn’t know about the declared war and just swept the whole family together and ushered them to the family pew.

No one looked at each other or spoke a word. We sang a medley of songs that concluded with “Have I told you lately that I love you?” I told a story about our son Doug who tells those who are posing for a photo, “Will you moisten lips—preferably you own!” I invited people to grab a hand, squeeze; hold on tight and to sing with us. The broken family tentatively reached out and then got into heavy-duty hugging.

Restoration is such a fine family word.

Perhaps, God found a friend in Abraham because He knew the first Hebrew would follow Him, even when life was temporarily in the toilet.

Meanderings—Swapping Road Stories with Abraham’s Tour Group
©2018 D. Dean Benton
An ebook available in May.