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

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.

Case of a Laughing Robot

Sometimes I have to check in with you just to make sure I’m still on track. I heard that by 2025 there will be more robots on the earth than humans and by 2028 robots will have genuine emotions. Let me sort that out. Tell me if I need heavier-duty meds.

Our daughter’s African Grey parrot says in a sympathetic voice, “Ahhhh…” when someone says “Ouch” or indicates injury or stress. If someone cries, the Woodrow’s response is even more emotional. As much as Woodrow likes me and enjoys calling my name, and gently taking a treat from my fingers, if I stick that finger into the cage, he will bite it to the bone. Is he feeling “genuine emotions” with the “Ahhh…”?

My concept of the mental ability of animals has changed. When Debi read the research to us about Ravens and their family flocks, we learned that ravens, crows and magpies (?) can negotiate, know when they get a raw deal and will hold a grudge and seek revenge for up to two years. If you harm one of their flock, they will wait for the right moment and seek to “get you back.” They are mischievous, have a sense of humor and enjoy play. In certain climates, they are seen playfully sliding down snow covered roofs.

I am convinced that whales, some gorillas and large animals including elephants have ability to talk to each other, sing and emote. When Theodore Roosevelt went on safari to the Amazon, wild lions and other cats would attack the horses. He observed the crying of the horses in fear/terror as chilling and horrible to hear.

Did you read the report about rogue teen-age elephants that became violent. The cause was traced to separation from the herd and absence of male influence and resident fathers?

Can a creature express “genuine emotion,” in contrast to parroting, without possessing a soul? If your pet has a soul, does it need to be “saved?” (We’ve had pet cats that certainly needed to repent!)

What about robots. How will they be programmed? Who will do the programming? How is a genuine emotion programmed into plastic, wires and such? Can a programmer install only positive emotions? Emotions, as a category, include anger and hate. What if there are community organizers among the robots who seek to overthrow governments or take out your neighbor? Who will police the emotional robots? What agency will hold them accountable?

Self-driving cars? Will they also be programmable for suicide missions?
Going to have some answers before I purchase (or adopt) a Roomba vacuum cleaner. It probably would ambush me on the way to bathroom in the middle of the night.

Life use to be simpler. I’m considering pulling all the plugs and cutting all the cables in self-defense.

©2018 D. Dean Benton
Wonderer & Writer
dean@deanbenton.org

Breakfast on the Beach

What did you have for Easter dinner?

Traditionally it is ham, isn’t it? That’s what we did. Problem with ham—no dressing. Scalloped corn and potatoes and three kinds of cranberry sauce.

I’ve been reading about how Jesus “played” with the disciples as He appeared to them. Road to Emmaus, at the tomb and at the beach. I’ve never been satisfied with any of the solutions to why John records the miracle of the fish at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and again at the end. I assumed it was the same event—the latter a reprise.

How does one say, “Tada! It worked. I’m back!”? After the resurrection, the guys decided to go fishing to wait out the “wait” instructions.

After not much luck at the fishing hole, an unknown man is seen cooking breakfast on the beach and a discussion ensues. During the conversation, one of the disciples must have said, “Doesn’t this seem familiar? De je vu, anyone?” Peter is the first to connect the days: “It is the Lord!” Exactly what was the one irrefutable evidence? Tone of voice, the way he smiled or the way he tended the coals? Perhaps the way he gestured to them that breakfast was ready.

They get the boat and net full of fish to shore and Jesus invites them to eat what He has prepared. What did He cook for that astonishing meal? Fish, toast, grits? Does a resurrected Jesus have culinary skills uncommon to the rest of us? I’m guessing some of the disciples ate without saying a word, too overwhelmed to even think; while others talked with their mouths full. So many questions. Was there fruit for dessert?

After dishes are cleaned up, did Jesus say, “Simon, bring your drink and walk with me.” With toothpick in his mouth, cup in hand, Simon Peter hears Jesus ask, “Do you love me?”
Was there a picnic bench where they repeated the seating arrangement of the Last Supper? Perhaps they stood around the fire. Were there seagulls fighting over the crumbs?

I would have most liked to have been there for that breakfast on the beach. “Oh, and Jesus, about the love question. After the past few days, I don’t know how to adequately say yes. I can’t find the words. After seeing and hearing how much You love me, no word of mine is adequate to express thank you for what you’ve done or Yes, I love you. May I hug you?

©2018 D. Dean Benton
Writer & Wonderer

Have a happy Palm Sunday

When did Jesus’ Triumphal Entry end? The Gospel writers tell two stories. One narrative has Jesus entering the city, walking around and looking at the Temple and then going to Bethany to return the next day to “cleanse” the Temple. The other story has Jesus entering the city and chasing the money changers out of the Temple immediately.

“Here, hold the colt while I take care of Temple pollution.”

Since Jesus orchestrated the Triumphal Entry, I wonder what his intention was—what outcome? He had avoided the applause and told people to tone down the rhetoric. He usually left town when the crowds started making noise about declaring him king. But on Palm Sunday things changed. For what purpose?
The Entry didn’t end there, but when the parade reached the overlook and Jesus saw the city, the cheering stopped and Jesus wept. He predicts what is going to happen. The last phrase of Luke 19:41-44 sets my soul on edge. “…you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.” Other writers quote Jesus saying, “…you didn’t recognize your opportunity.”

Henry Clay from Kentucky was a professional presidential candidate. His life focus for nearly thirty years was running for president. I am not surprised that the United States survived the Civil War as much as I am surprised she survived Henry Clay. In the 1824 election, Clay swung the election away from Jackson, who had won the popular vote, to John Quincy Adams through an electoral college maneuver. It was called “the corrupt bargain.” On his death bed, Andrew Jackson said one of his regrets was that he did not shoot Henry Clay.

Not much has been said about the election of 1840. Over three decades Clay ran for and lost the presidential election three times in three different political parties. He was still actively looking for ways to move into the White House. In 1840 William Henry Harrison was selected to be the presidential candidate and the party offered the Vice-Presidential slot to Henry Clay. He refused. “Disdainfully,” the historian says. He would not be shuttled off to a secondary position. He had worked for the nomination and above everything and everyone, he deserved it. The establishment, therefore, selected John Tyler as Harrison’s running mate.

One month after the election, William Henry Harrison died and the vice-president John Tyler became President. Henry Clay had missed his opportunity.
Back to that hill overlooking Jerusalem. Jesus weeps over missed opportunities and the unavoidable consequences. Was he talking about the single mother or the Jewish fellow who operated the neighborhood deli? What could they have done to shift outcomes? What did Jesus want from them? How had they sealed the fate of this city—“you of all people would understand the way to peace” (Luke 19:42b)?

Henry Clay would run for the presidency again in 1844. He lost. Novelist-historian Irving Stone says,

“He blamed his defeat on fraud, foreigners, Catholics, abolitionists, Tyler-ites, renegade Whigs—on everything except the life, career and character of Henry Clay.”

The King James Version translates Luke 19:44: “…because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

I don’t know what to do on Palm Sunday. We cannot duplicate it with a great worship event. I worry about the colt getting home and how Jesus’ words impact that Jerusalem deli owner. What am I to do with the palm branches—it feels so awkward and unnatural. So I get stuck with Jesus overlooking the city and weeping. It is easy to tuck Matthew 23:37 into the story:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

I don’t want to miss the “visitation.” So, I calculate my life, actions, character and contemplate what needs correction or adjustment. I stand as close to the colt as security allows and say to Jesus, “I don’t get all of this. But, I’m willing. What? Where? With whom? I’m willing.” Jesus is Lord!

What is the appropriate Palm Sunday gift?

©2018 D. Dean Benton—first published March 2016—dean@deanbenton.org

Attacked By Broad Brushes

It’s not even 8:30 and I’m already wondering.

Seth Godin talks in a recent podcast (Akimbo) about the placebo effect. He claims that 95% of your brain does not understand English. The brain functions on chemistry and feelings. What your spirit “knows” informs the brain. If you know that you are “greatly blessed and highly favored” your brain will tell you ways to show that to be true and will open your eyes to solutions and opportunities.

I am a white evangelical male. According to those who are left of center, I am not only deplorable I am responsible for everything bad that has ever happened in our Republic since Colonial Days. Not only the secularists and radical, but I’m reading Christian media people (whom I rather like) talking about the WEM tribe in grossly dismissive and contemptuous words. I listen attentively to their indictments and I don’t see many of my male friends or mentors there. I am fairly introspective. I may be self-deluding, but they aren’t describing me. I am as concerned about environment stewardship, human rights as any of my peers. I am also often without a clue how to solve societal and racial problems, but it has nothing to do with my faith, or anatomy. You could surely find me self-justifying and ignorant, but it is not because there is a WEM gene that can never be redeemed or corrected.

A left of center, white, kinda evangelical (she doesn’t like the word. She is in a serious journey with Jesus.) media woman posted a study that says Christians are more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty on lack of effort rather than circumstances. I do not equate poverty with skin color. When I fail or find myself into any kind of need I ask if I’m blocked because of lack of effort. I have several ways of doing that. I apply my self-directed inquisition to others. Some are blatantly not trying—more don’t know what to try. An even larger number tried and what they tried didn’t work. Disappointment leads to cynicism and iron-clad self-doubt until there is no reason in their soul, mind and spirit to try at all. It is not either or. It is not about color.

There has been an all-out war on the white male since the 60s. Now the designated scape-goat is the white American, evangelical male.
If I understood the evangelical movement as media represents it I wouldn’t like it either. The left of center has co-opted and stolen “evangelical” for a variety of reasons. The term has been redefined and made it what it has never been intended. The WME critics tend to raise a placard of Pat Robertson as the ultimate example of ignorance and stupid comments. I also cringe when he says some things. He is grouped with robber barons of another century. Have these critics researched how much Robertson’s ministries give each year to help the poor or natural disasters? I think of World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Feed The Children and many mega-churches who give millions a year. White, American, Evangelical men.

An evangelical by definition is not political. It is a group of people who tend to interpret the Bible a certain way and understand that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to die for our sin and fix what was broken in the Fall. An evangelical tends to interpret what happened on the cross and how we are to share that message with the world. Among other things. Our understanding and beliefs influence our politics because of what we know about God and what His self-revelation teaches us about inter-personal relationships and relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Ghost. The core values of an evangelical does not include our political party. We are not a lock-knee voting block.

Being an evangelical is to be “mission-minded” about the lost, the orphan, widow, poor, oppressed, hungry, uneducated and the sick—just to begin.

There is power in the pen. There is confusion and inaccurate claims in the broad brush.

Beware of the broad brush!
©2018 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Solid answers, reasons & strategies

I want to avoid extreme hyperbole, but I think 12 Rules for Life: An antidote to chaos (Jordan Peterson, Random House Canada, 2018) is the most important book of this young century.

It is not yet in paperback. Hardcover runs $15-$17—Amazon. An alternative plan is to get in line at your library or take a day trip to the nearest large bookstore and spot read it. There will be coffee and plush chairs.

If you have children at home, at least read the 3 page summary of Rule 5—“Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.”
Summary of Principles:
1. Limit the rules
2. Use minimum necessary force
3. Parents should come in pairs
4. Parents should understand their own capacity to be harsh, vengeful, arrogant, resentful, angry, deceitful.
5. It is the primary duty of parents to make their children socially desirable (page 142-3)

When Carole hears that I went to the riverfront, she will ask, “Was He there?” I will exclaim semi-hyperbolic, “OH! MAN! OH MAN! OH MAN!”

After reading this chapter, I wonder why I’ve never seen a church advertise that they specialize in ministry to the single parent. The Kingdom is missing something here! (North Point Community Church has a Sunday evening gathering for parents and kids for Q&A.)

If you want a clear view of why there are school shootings, chaos, and troubled white, emotionally ill, distressed boys, read Rule 6—“Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World.”

Dr. Peterson speaks to the causes. One of Columbine shooters wrote enough clues. Peterson says about Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Colorado:

“The murderous individuals had a problem with reality that existed at a religious depth.”

I think the ideas in this book provide pro-active tactics. The writer, prof at Harvard and University of Toronto is described as “secular.” The more I hear him talk and read his articles (Newsweek) and books, the more I hear a biblical prophet.

Thank you
©2018 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Who’s Your Daddy?

“Compassion fatigue.”

The matriarch of the animal group in our family went to the vet last week for dental work. She did fine. The vets and workers vocalized how glad they were for her. One of the younger members of our animal kingdom made a trip to the vet today. Except for reptiles, we pretty much have the small animal kingdom covered with at least one rep from each segment. The vets in several communities know the names of our pets and understand that they are the 4-legged members of the family—except for the chicken, and bird. We are, therefore, troubled by the news that there is an epidemic of suicides among veterinarians specializing in small animals. The crisis is attributed to compassion fatigue.

A psychologist said this morning that you and I are subject to compassion fatigue. The feeling is of being overwhelmed by the constant news of nations, orphans, tragedies, absent justice and a thousand other assaults to the point we shut down and block out news because our compassion reservoir is extremely low, if not empty. Overwhelmed, overloaded, fatigued, self-defense cynicism.

The psychologist tossed another word into the story. Chaos. Compassion and chaos are connected. I don’t know which comes first.

I am obsessing over Abram & his tribe. It seems to me: God told Abram to get away from Ur of the Chaldeans before He told him there would be a Promised Land. Ur was in Mesopotamia. Jordan Peterson says,

“…the ancient Mesopotamians believed…that mankind itself was made from the blood of Kingu, the single most terrible monster that the great Goddess of Chaos could produce, in her most vengeful and destructive moments.” (12 Rules for Life, ©2018 Random House Canada, page 55)

There is, I believe, a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. In that eon of millions of years is when dinosaurs and all their companions roamed the earth. Nothing God ever created could be evaluated as “without form and void”—chaos. I also believe that satan was removed from heaven and landed on this planet during that eon. Where Lucifer is, chaos is or will be.

It interests me that the “Russia, Russia, Russia” period can be called chaotic and the reason Russia interfered in the 2016 election was to produce crippling chaos. When we (individually or culture) are overwhelmed we experience it as chaos—too many contradictory elements to easily think about or resolve into a sensible cause or result.

Chaos can lead to spiritual, emotional and physical death.

God wanted Abram to get out of that chaotic atmosphere of Mesopotamia. He wanted Abram to know the “blood that flowed in humans” was not from an evil source, but from a loving God.

Behind all that’s going on in our culture there is a war between the kingdoms. The kingdom of life and the kingdom of death.

Well, that’s how all of this connects for me. One of first results of a chaotic-overwhelming time is compassion fatigue.

Who’s your daddy? Who’s blood flows in your veins?
“Oh yes! I’m a child of the King. His royal blood now flows in my veins.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRsm12Fd0qY
©2018 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Legacy leading to Your Destiny

Several years ago, I was watching a TV discussion that landed on the ministry of Billy Graham. Two men talked about what would happen when Mr. Graham died. This became known as “The prophecy.” I respect those men who “sensed” in the Spirit a wide-spread calling forth a new group of empowered evangelists for the new day. The heavy underlining was that something would break open that Billy Graham’s death would ignite. Others I respect have said the new group would be a generation. We heard Anne Graham Lotz speak prophetically of that at the funeral. It sounded to me like a ratification of the earlier seeing.

Ed Stetzer moved from Lifeway—an arm of Southern Baptist Convention—to Wheaton College. I followed his blogs and publications then and still do. Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group
I want to share a portion of Mr. Stetzer’s Exchange blog from Christianity Today that fits into the “prophecy.”

My colleagues at the Billy Graham Center, Paul Erickson and Bob Schuster, shared with me one example of a hero maker by the name of Elner Edman.

Elner was the brother of V. Raymond Edman, a past president of Wheaton College. Elner and Herman Fischer, who was on the Wheaton Board of Trustees at the time, were on vacation golfing in Florida. There, they met Graham, who was then a student at the Florida Bible Institute, a then-unaccredited Bible college (today, it is Trinity College in the Tampa Area).

They listened to Billy preach, but they also went golfing and Billy served as their caddy,
carrying their golf bags. They found themselves impressed with him and encouraged him to consider attending Wheaton College after finishing a degree at Florida Bible Institute. Graham had said that his mother had always wanted him to attend Wheaton, but that it was out of their financial reach.

So, having been impressed with him, both Edman and Fischer came back a couple days and Elner offered to pay the first year of his tuition at Wheaton. They both also agreed to work to get him a scholarship. Graham did end up attending Wheaton College, which became a key transition point to his global ministry.

When I shared this in front of the 6,000 attendees at the Exponential Conference, I did not tell people who Elner Edman was. I simply put his picture on the screen and explained that for the last year and a half, I’ve carried a responsibility of something called the Washington Project.

In the Washington Project, my job was that upon Billy Graham’s death, I was to cancel my plans, to call and set into motion certain events related to the funeral, and more. I have actually carried a card with me that I held up to the attendees at the Exponential Conference and explained that I would get this call and then I would call certain people.

So, I explained to those at Exponential that by putting a picture of Elner Edman up, I wanted to encourage all of us that there are all kinds of hero makers. In this case, Elner met his caddy, thought he had potential, encouraged him to go to Wheaton College, and helped pay his way to go to Wheaton College.

After explaining a bit about the card and the Washington Project, I explained that Elner Edman’s caddy died recently, and I put a picture of Billy Graham on the screen.
©Christianity Today, 2018

The vision that came from several (and sometimes differing) parts of the Body of Christ seems to be coming forth.

Another “investor” in Billy Graham was Christian Educator Henrietta Mears who invited him to her summer conference. It was there that Billy Graham worked through the credibility of the Bible and then the role it would have in his life and ministry. He developed a biblical worldview.

Two major Christian research groups studied Generation Z or iGens, which follows The Millennials. Their research says that 4% of iGens (including Christians) have a biblical worldview. This percentage has been eroding beginning with Boomers. A Biblical worldview is almost impossible as long as a person is Biblically illiterate. I take this one step further by quoting:

“The Bible is, for better or worse, the foundational document of Western Civilization (of Western values, Western morality, and Western conceptions of good and evil.)” (©2018 Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life, Random House Canada.)

My lengthy blog “After thoughts & Prayers” (https://bentonquesthouse.com/) outlines how I see a possible way the vision above—calling forth heroes and building a generation of leaders—could work. With the dismissal of God and the Bible from our culture, the younger generations have no basis for thought about or words to conceptualize America’s faith systems, our form of government or a solid understanding of the virtues. Or a capacity to understand or internalize The Constitution, let alone live as a Follower of Jesus.
To whom will you become a hero? How?

Thanks for thinking about this.
©2018 D. Dean Benton
Writer, Wonderer

Thank You, Mr. Graham

The most influential instrument in my boyhood was the radio on top of my grandmother’s refrigerator. It must have been uniquely wired. All it ever broadcast was the farm news, preachers and singers. I’m still not sure what a pork belly is, but I got it straight when it came to preachers and singers.

I don’t know the first time I heard Billy Graham preach. It just seems like the whole Graham team was always part of our family. We listened to The Hour of Decision beginning before I could reach the radio dial. We knew the Wilson brothers, George Beverly Shea. I was impacted by Cliff and Billie Barrows. Later, we met the wife and family of the crusade pianist and many men who worked with Mr. Graham. A man attended one of our meetings who told me he had spent the week with “Billy.” I couldn’t figure out who he was talking about until he said, “Ruth.” He had been a Graham team member during the Youth for Christ days.

During the days when my family of origin was fragmenting, we lived at Grandma’s on several occasions. We were at radio side during the Los Angeles crusade and heard the stories of gangsters, entertainers, athletes and educators coming to faith in Jesus. Those names and stories became part of my youth.

By the fifth grade, Mr. Graham family and team were extended family. It was not long after the L.A. Crusade that Graham came to Des Moines. We were about the last ones getting into the building. Mom and sister found two seats together in the third balcony and I found one open seat on the last row at the top of the auditorium. When the altar call was given, I found Mom and told her I was going to the altar. It seems to be my first confession of faith—“Mom, I’m going forward….” It felt a long trip down the back stairs to the main floor and then walk to the stage where I met a counselor.
Even when I wasn’t living for the Lord, I knew one day I would be a preacher-evangelist.
Radio, television and music gripped me. I made many altar call walks during the long journey of healing. The Graham ministry was important in that process. I learned about ministry integrity. It was Mr. Graham who first announced he would not be with another woman than his wife for dinner or in a car. He had a team around him, friends he had known most of his life, who entered every hotel room to make sure there would never be a morality question. His office team lived with strict guidance handling the money. And the Graham generosity became the standard. The important things I saw in the lives of the major evangelists I studied or worked with were financial integrity and open handed generosity. Carole and I benefitted from several convocations, conferences and gatherings paid for by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. The same can be said about Oral Roberts whose desire to do all things top drawer and generous sowing into pastors impacted me.

Several years ago, we visited the Chapel on the Graham Asheville, N.C. campus. Our friends Gary and Marilyn Hansen lived in Asheville and were tour guides on that trip. If you’ve watched the Gaither Homecoming series, you have seen the singers in that chapel. Any description of my experience in that prayer loft and visit to that chapel would be inadequate. I was very aware of what Jesus had done in me, and his present active work. I felt recommissioned. And so appreciative for the people who had influenced me and been agents of change and healing. I regret we didn’t stay longer—days longer—to wander over the many acres to encounter Christ and further celebrate the company of witnesses whose presence permeated the landscape.

Thank you, Mr. Graham for your faithfulness and example.

©2018 D. Dean Benton
dean@deanbenton.org