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

Sounds Like a Plan

It is easy to find a conspiracy even in a cotton ball. I’m wondering if  shutting Thanksgiving down has global implication. Probably not. If someone could pull it off, it would have spiritual and mental health negative impact. Gratitude is an essential expression.

Thanksgiving has not been “shut down.” Turkey Day has been limited.

Listening to a singer telling a story of God’s provision for his growing up family, I realized what I want Thanksgiving to be: a testimony meeting as people share God’s provision that stimulates us to sing thanks, lift praise, worship and express joy. Thanksgiving 20/20—repeating 2 Chronicles 20:20—singing in the high-priced section.

Encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4).

Thanksgiving 2020 needs to be a mental-health, self-care day by hearing the exploits of God in lives of people who have a place at our inner table. Zoom, Face-time, Skype, Facebook, Parlor. No masks required on email. Yet.

“When the days are dreary and the long nights weary, I know that Jesus cares.”

Happy Thanks Giving

Benton—Dean & Carole

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Know what’s going on in your body this moment?

“Cells are amazing things: there are about one hundred trillion of them in our bodies, each so small that several thousand would fit on the period at the end of this sentence.”

Those words from an incredible story of a woman who influences medical knowledge and research. I continue to quote:

“Under a microscope, a cell looks like a fried egg: It has a white (the cytoplasm) that’s full of water and proteins to keep it fed, and a yolk (the nucleus) that holds all the genetic information that makes you you. The cytoplasm buzzes like a New York City street. It’s crammed full of molecules and vessels endlessly shuttling enzymes and sugars from one part of the cell to another, pumping water, nutrients and oxygen in and out of the cell. All the while, little cytoplasmic factories work 24/7, cranking out sugars, fats, proteins and energy to keep the whole thing running and feed the nucleus—the brains of the operation. Inside every nucleus within each cell in your body, there’s an identical copy of your entire genome. That genome tells cells when to grow and divide and makes sure they do their jobs, whether that’s controlling your heartbeat or helping your brain understand the words on this page.

“…mitosis—the process of cell division—makes it possible for embryos to grow into babies, and for our bodies to create new cells for healing wounds or replenishing blood we’ve lost. …like a perfectly choreographed dance”

From The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot, (©2010 Broadway Books.)

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:14).

Cells—thousands of them at this moment active in your body—can sit on this period .

©2020 D. Dean Benton—amazed and praising God. WOW!

Lovely is Essential

If you haven’t yet decided that Apostle Paul was/is a fine psychologist you might want to consider it. He said if you want God’s presence and God’s peace, then think on—whatever things are lovely.

If the words from Philippians came from God to build a place for His presence and peace to dwell, I want to have confidence that I can take Him at His word, and He said it to Paul and He means it for you and me.

From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:

Lovely (Strong’s 4375) (prosphile is a relationship word derived from pros= towards + philes = friend) refers to that conduct which is dear to someone. Lovable, endearing, amiable, gracious, charming, pleasing, winsome.

“It is conduct which is pleasing in its motive and actions towards others. Lovely has the idea of that which is admirable or agreeable to behold or consider.”

“Whatever is lovely and loveable, think on these things…” (Amplified Bible).

After reading that today was the “lovely” day, I was surrounded by gray and bleak. When was the last time some  thing appeared lovely to me? Ugly dominates airwaves, many secular songs and news reports. I really did not want to go into the market place today. Our governor didn’t call an absolute lockdown, so I had to go. What is lovely out there?

An encounter with a challenged acquaintance pushed me to ask myself, what do I parrot? What influence fine-tunes my brain?

A few days ago, I decided I will not give access to my brain, or my attempt at civility, to anyone who uses the F-word or MFer word, makes fun of, puts down, or ridicules people. Gone! How can I think on lovely things when ugliness, vulgarity and stupidity—things that make no sense—sit at the door like a cat waiting to rush in? A boundary says I can’t, nor I desire to, tell you what to think or say or do. I will say you (generic term) can’t say or do those things in my presence. The boundary has been established.

There is a stretch of Interstate—I think it is between Emporia and Kansas City or Wichita and Emporia. Inexplicably it has shown up in my mind often in recent weeks. We have driven that stretch at sunrise, sunset, midnight. Best going north late afternoon. It is lovely. Rolling hills with vast colors and crops. The very thought makes me smile and mutter a pleasant word.

Another video runs in my head. It is a customized vehicle with the hood open. Chrome bonnet and clean engine. Some of my friends, more educated about cars than I, see beauty in that vehicle. It is more than the grease is gone, it is about the work and expertise that went into making that car or pickup awesome. Lovely. Some buildings, some living rooms, porches are lovely. Some peach cobblers and pumpkin scones are lovely and delicious.

I didn’t find much lovely out there, today. Obviously, it could have been there. Given my mindset I missed it. Everything is a threat. Covid hides behind every breath and on every surface. People are afraid and defensive—protecting themselves against every possibility. I don’t know if I can trust newscasters or opinionators that seemed “safe” in September. We are in an information war—winner takes all, changes the world. My world! The Constitution and our way of government may be at stake.

Lovely is an essential.

My day was rescued by a conversation between Donald Miller and Seth Godin about creativity. It was lovely—why? It motivated me, gave me substance to act on and brought light to the dark prospects. My soul took on a brighter hue. Tools. It gave reasons to recalibrate my thinking. The interaction revealed optimistic, hope-trending hearts.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/seth-godin-how-to-become-more-creative-even-if-you/id1092751338?i=1000497742349

Those are some things to think about that may present loveliness. Again, loveliness is about relationships and people we interpret as lovely and loveable. I’ve got a list.

Lovely is essential to keep the barbarians and beasts outside the fence. It cleanses the ugly and offers evidence that sewage has not flooded our world. Lovely–Like an essential oil in a diffuser.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Think Again

A little help here: “If there ever was a…,” or “If there ever were a…”?

Today “…think on these things…whatever things are true.” Decide what is true and then ask five people if they agree.

Andy Andrews’ tag line for his podcast is something like, “We go past true all the way to Truth.” Solomon attempted to give us one-liners of true in Proverbs. I’m not asking you about Truth, I’m asking what you believe to be true. If you are looking for “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” don’t expect it from headline writers. Headlines tend to be nothing but click bait.

If the hoped for end result of your thinking is God’s presence and God’s peace (Philippians 4) “true” must be determined—maybe not the whole truth, but just true.

Do you know the story of the Sunday school boy who answered his teacher, “The real answer is ‘squirrel,’ but you want me to say ‘Jesus.’” Attempting to avoid those kinds of questions, I want to say that Jesus’ Truth influences-defines all things true. What will you decide today is true about the election? Will that produce peace in your mind-emotions-actions?

While Truth is not up for debate, all things true can be pretty subjective. For Christians, nothing can be true that contradicts Jesus Truth. Jesus Truth is not about banana cream pie in the freezer. It is about how that Truth shepherds us through our time on earth. Earth true is important—Jesus insists we seek eternal Truth—that which rust, dust, moth, inflation or headlines can change and to know what is true and act accordingly.

I’m pondering today if Jesus would apply this equation: If following your selection of true produces God’s presence and God’s peace then think on it. If it produces different fruit, then think again.

Moving plants from the lawn to my office is done. About 10 days ago. Part of true about my favorite plant is that it wants to be in a window and it will grow toward the light. Several shoots have grown about an inch per day as it reaches for light. A manifestation of true.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Pondering Beyond 11-3-20

There is life beyond the election. It is not going to be, however, like it used to be. Post-election and post-Covid is yet to be determined. The visionaries, futurists (Bible calls them prophets) and the people committed to work (see Nehemiah) will determine.

The Church of Jesus Christ has sought to “turn from our wicked ways.” I’m concerned that in that heavy-duty pursuit we may have concluded we will never repent enough or find the one sin we forgot and therefore disqualify us from God’s healing. God’s mercy outweighs the demands of earthly gods who can never be assuaged or convinced. The Founding Fathers were not saying in the Declaration or Constitution that they were a perfect, sinless group we were to emulate. They sat before us America’s permanent goals and pursuit—“with liberty & justice for all.

Lou Engel tells this story about William Wilberforce. Wilberforce worked legislatively for decades to abolish slavery in Great Britain. Several years before he won the battle, he lacked four votes in Parliament to pass the bill to abolish. The four politicians chose to not vote and went to an opera instead.

Wilberforce observed how four votes would have made the difference in many deaths, suffering and subjugation.

“I hope you enjoyed the opera.”

I’ve been wondering how to nurture myself in the days when there are no phone calls from the DNC or RNC and no polls. I’m going to miss the slick political ads filling my mail box. (Really gonna miss those people!)

I was putting newly released books on the shelf. I usually ask people who have their phone in hand and a list if there is something I can help them find. Which makes my wife laugh because I can’t find anything in the fridge that is not on the front of the shelf.

“No, I’m just looking.” She said and then picked up a specific book with the word “Disloyalty” in the title. She said something that spurred me to say, “I think disloyalty is the darkest of words….” She accusingly responded, “You’re not a Republican, are you?” For a moment I felt the heat of a fire in a court yard. I laughed and said, “I think of myself as an Independent…a little right of center.” She said, “Thank God!”

I got the feeling from this well-dressed and well-educated lady’s words, and the way she looked at me, that I could have said, “No, but I am a rapist and I drown puppies,” and it would not have fazed her. Here she was in the book department praising God that at least, I’m not a Republican.

I am a Conservative a little right of center. I’m comfortable with a definition I’ve adapted:

“Holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change. I believe that certain things, attitudes and values are worth conserving and are the best base upon which to teach history while enabling people to think creatively and equipping to innovate.”

Ponderings. I do not think that Amy Coney Barrett was nominated primarily to take down Roe v Wade. She is not a one-issue justice. Sixty-million-plus babies dead is beyond ability to grasp. If Roe v Wade were to be overturned, we are left with what will take its place? A Supreme Court ruling will not change the minds of people who desire to exercise their “choice.” I certainly do not want the “back alley” scenario to return. Rather than “old normal” I look forward to a better way.

I think Trey Gowdy is a good example of a Conservative. He is passionate, a celebrator of truth and a welcomer of diverse discussion. His new book, Doesn’t Hurt to Ask, is about an open, honest, common sense life. I come away from his weekly podcasts having learned something and being challenged. “Tuesdays with Trey.” This week’s topic is “Flirting with Absurdity.” Last week he talked about Presidential debates: The people the candidates seek to serve deserve better. He has an interesting plan.

https://www.treygowdy.com/thetreygowdypodcast

Dr. Lance Wallnau is a mentor, futurist and thinker. He is a conservative linked to contrarianism. He is a humorist who sounds like Jackie Mason, and communicates best with a white board within reach. I’ve been reading his new book, God’s Chaos Code. He helps me understand what our cultural upheaval is about. He was the first to identify Donald Trump as a Cyrus Leader (Isaiah 45), but his primary devotion is to God’s Kingdom and teaches about “discipling nations”—Jesus words. His is an important voice for our day.

Christians who seek to consider what a tomorrow America could look like will benefit by reading and talking about God’s Chaos Code. Paperback available from Amazon. The ideas need to be discussed in a small group as we consider post-Nov 3. The Left has a massively funded agenda. The Right has an agenda. God’s biblical Kingdom has an agenda which leans neither direction. The Kingdom’s agenda is righteousness.

I want another word without the baggage. I understand righteousness to be, “The manner of living that glorifies God. To live aligned with grace, mercy and Jesus’ Great Commandment to ‘love God and your neighbor as yourself.’ Both Old and New Testaments declare God’s design as ‘liberty and justice for all.’” Wallnau helps us personalize and globalize righteousness.

The opera is not worth the cost.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

A Question

I have a question.

The various iterations filter to, “If we would have had leadership at the top, we wouldn’t be in this pandemic mess.”

My question is: What specific leadership could anyone have offered at any place in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic that would have stopped the invisible enemy and avoided its deadly march around the world? More specifically its early and continued malice across the USA?

Most, if not all, instructions and insights in first three months of year have been rescinded and re-tracked at least once. Last week the WHO reversed its opinion about lockdown. Now they consider it a bad thing to do. What would February leadership have said or done then that would have still been “wise” today? In October, some are saying we need a national law on mask wearing. If only we had leaders who would have ordered national mask wearing. That would have required an act of nationalizing the private lives of its citizens. That is called Socialism. It is the practice of Communism. Which makes the question even more pointed.

There is also the Constitutional principle of State’s Rights. The Federal government cannot at will override or assume authority over state government. The president can nationalize the National Guard (maybe-?), but the Governor has the authority to call out the Guard. The Federal Government—Executive Branch is limited in sending troops into a state or city. It is up to each State to determine, not a central government. The State Government must ask for Federal help. Communist governments send in military to squash protests as the Chinese did in Hong Kong. Our Constitution places limits on such.

The question is not a defense of our current President or Federal government, it is about what (not who) could have been done in January-March, 2020? What leadership action? I guess leaders could have used fortune tellers, tea-leaf readers, soothsayers and such. That’s what it sounds like–betting on crap shoots.

We have learned that COVID is not responsive to edicts, news releases or executive orders. The scientific communities do not agree on whether masks work. Nine plus months into this pandemic and the discussion still rages among regular citizens and the Blue Ribbon experts. They are still trying to figure it out. Therefore, what could anyone have done eight or ten months ago when no one knew more than just a little bit?

To suggest that if Mr. Biden had been president things would be different in January to October, 2020. Anyone but Trump. Perhaps Hillary or Jeb Bush. Maybe Jimmy Stewart? We can only guess. To magically place a different face in the White House would change not just the person, but the social, national dynamics. It would not be the same problem. COVID or any contagious disease does not respond to votes or political rhetoric. All the alternative leaders would have the same restrictions and boundaries. Lincoln and Roosevelt declared martial law/limited writs of habeas corpus. If you grant any alternative legality, then it must be given to the current president, influencers and opinionators.

The politicians found much to dislike about John Quincy Adams. He was quirky, but he was predictable. One Washingtonian said how Adams would act in the future could be found by reading his history. I have heard others say that. We can guess or make an educated guess how others would have handled any given crisis, but we will never know. We can’t go back to the future or time travel forward. Maybe we can shakily predict how some would have acted if they had only the information the government and medical community possessed in January or March. To me, the facts are still fluid. Leaders are still making it up as they go—based on the best evidence currently available.

Much of the 2020 Presidential vote weighs heavy on the question. Outside of political harangue, it is an impossible question to answer with absolute accuracy. But that conclusion resides in my brain. You may have a better answer. If so, there are many of us who want to hear it.

Just Wondering

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Temp Shift into Neutral

From my HyVee* Fortune Cookie: “Getting away for the weekend will help clear your mind.” It also told me to learn Chinese.

Ok, let’s do it. I like road trips, but where can we go to escape? Can I take my laptop, phone and briefcase? If I get away, who will mind the store? Will we miss something important on the news or Facebook? Twitter?

The possibility of getting away is thin. We’ve found a couple of alternatives to a road trip that will take our minds off the madness:

A talented man leaves city life to build a cheap cabin in the Canadian wilderness. There are three years of his life and projects on his youtube channel. He doesn’t talk much, just takes us along to fish, build and grow things all without power tools. It is a way to “get away for the weekend.”

“My Self-Reliance” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIMXKin1fXXCeq2UJePJEog

My niece spent a few days with friends in Tennessee. She said they visited 15 coffee shops. That is my idea of a weekend away. I like coffee shops more than coffee. The ultimate coffee shop is Starbucks at Barnes & Noble—and I’m not thrilled with the coffee, but the blend of the smell of books and coffee is a trip.

If you are a fan of Andy Andrews or have read Traveler’s Gift, you know the prime character named Jones. Several of Andy’s books feature him. You need to know that Andy Andrews is marketing coffee. It is named, “Just Jones Java.” Price is competitive—(kinda!)—and is now available. Wise marketing!

I really miss going to coffee shops to read, pray and observe people. I haven’t been to a coffee shop since March or April. To feed my addiction, I make coffee, find a parking lot where I read and drink coffee. It gets me away from my desk and the alluring cable news channels. I said this a month ago and it is still true: The encounters I have had with God have been in those times talking/listening to God while reading Joel Salatin’s book The Pigness of Pigs. I can pray and cry out loud “Oh, Lord!” in the car while that wailing makes baristas uneasy—curdles their cream.

The other day I read descriptions of commercial food farming—chickens, cattle, pigs—and I was driven to prayer. I know why I react to PETA. I also know how difficult it is to get public attention for the ethical treatment of animals. “Don’t mess with my burger!” But PETA makes a point the Church should be declaring. Salatin is a Jesus Follower and conversant with the Bible teaching as applied to 20th Century needs and technology. I don’t think the Creator is pleased with how we allow or demand such appalling treatment of animals headed to our dinner table or drive-thru. The Creator has invited me in to glimpse how stewardship is about soil as well as souls.

I have also been stimulated to think outside my usual zone by his blog—“Musings From a Lunatic Farmer.https://www.thelunaticfarmer.com/blog/

A blog last week convinced me of the benefit of renting forests and public lands to farmers who will graze cattle, hogs, turkeys, chickens there to offset wildfires while enriching the soil.

Not going to get away for the weekend; probably won’t learn much Chinese, but I plan to flush toxic stuff from my mind and listen, contemplate and write God’s words into my journal.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Not a farm boy. A liker of flowing water, good soil, nurturing souls and healthy food.

*HyVee—the Midwest’s food store where there’s a smile in every aisle.

The Thrival Code

I’m obsessing about resilience.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you have seen Dr. Tim Elmore’s survival and thrival list:

  1. Resilience
  2. Resourcefulness
  3. Respect

To which I added:

  1. Responsibility

Observing our emotional, physical, spiritual, vocational, business atmosphere, resilience is a prime need.

Our long-time friend, David Mitchell now in South Carolina, is a student counselor. He appreciates Tim Elmore’s work, so he sent me a webinar link about building resilience. He said,

“I’m not always a huge fan of webinars, but this one has a lot of practical and useful information for ALL teachers—especially for those teaching virtually.”

 

Link to the webinar is below.

The resilience need is not just for students. Resilience skills are needed for all of us these days. The webinar instructor gives 5 components to build resilience:

  1. Connection
  2. Security
  3. Achievement
  4. Autonomy
  5. Fulfillment

Are those not components of a Jesus Follower? They are also what is under attack in the Pandemic and rioting, attack on the justice system and our personal well-being. A public figure was described as having a “healthy inner life.” Remembering our research on attacking anxiety and stress-management, these were chapter titles. I question whether we can maintain a healthy inner life unless we pay attention to these five. Any family disruption shakes or shatters the foundation of our resilience. If we heal from disruption or dissolution, we will have re-established or reinforced the five building blocks of personal wholeness.

David guides us in reference to the presentation:

“If you’d like to watch the whole thing, skip to 5:40 to get past the intros, etc. The best part is a 17 min window between 28:00 and 45:15 on restoring resilience in our students. Three concepts to know if you start at 28:00:

  1. Due to COVID, it has changed from MANY students are impacted by trauma to NEARLY ALL students are impacted by trauma.
  2. The goal is to move from being trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive to being trauma-skilled. 3. They liken trauma to a brick wall for students. We often can’t take it away or knock it down, but we can help them learn ways around or over it.”

The seventeen minutes were helpful. I invite you to invest 17. Thanks

https://home.edweb.net/webinar/differentiate20200909/

The link will ask for email address. David says, “If you aren’t an edWeb member, feel free to use my email address to be able to view it.”  <mitchelld@gwd50.org   

D. Dean Benton    Wonderer, Writer, Worker on resilience

Apples & Wisdom

Chris Stirewalt says, “…its possibilities look about as good as the chances of apple bobbing while wearing a corona mask.”

I’m not math bright nor am I a gambler, but I sure like to know what the chance and probabilities are. Maybe Johnny Mathis sowed the question—“Chances Are….” Are what? I want to know how to evaluate possibilities. Jesus gave us the equation.

By their fruit you will recognize them (Matthew 7).

It seems to me—at least this week—the determining skills and characteristics and most the most important elements to teach self and others are:

  • Resilience
  • Resourcefulness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility

If a person has that package of emotional, mental and spiritual strengths, they are most likely to survive, and perhaps thrive, during economic and social upheavals.

The reasoning for this is the fruit question. What will the outcome—the fruit—be if I follow this behavior, plan of action or decision to the logical conclusion? What will this line of thinking produce? From what orchard did the present conditions come?

Let’s look at this from the other side. What fruit do you want? If the above four skills and habits (R4) is what we desire, then what growing season and what activities and lessons are required? How is resilience developed? What teaches resourcefulness? How does respect for the soil, other people’s property and other people grow? How do we acquire the ability to take responsibility for our own actions and life?

R4 do not come to us fully developed, they are grown. The principle applies to everything. Chances are increased if first we ask, “What will result if I follow this action?” That demands self-awareness and personal discipline to routinely ask and discern the best answer.

What fruit will rioting bear? Listen to the rhetoric and platform of a political candidate and ask, “If the nation (county, village or me personally) follows this plan, where will it lead? What is the inevitable fruit? How does this decision-making pattern affect business decisions and personal decisions?

We were given a peck of apples. Carole made an apple pie. She said it was the first pie she had ever baked. What? How is that possible? I love pie. And her pie was fantastic. I come from a heritage of pie-bakers, so I feel qualified to judge. It was great! As good as Mom’s, if not better.

Since I peeled the apples, worm holes and rotting sections caught my attention. Checking the fruit demands we ask about worms in the apple.

You shall know them—people by their fruit. Negative results can be traced to causes—sometimes. There is an inevitable crop—not always, but worth asking “Where did that come from?” If you lock down business, lock up people in a small space, lock out gatherings of worship, forbid hugging and proclaim that mask wearing solves problems, what is most apt to happen? Unemployment, mental/emotional illness, growing anxiety and depression, agitation and frayed nerves. (There has been a growing number of inquiries about divorce especially among the newly married. No joke.) Keep kids away from routine, interaction, intentional education and the fruit is predictable.

There is an inevitable harvest. A lot of energy has been wasted on blaming. Shouldn’t we instead respond with plans? You shall know what to do if you see what the fruit is going to look like. Part of the dilemma we are living in is that of uncertainty and the unknown. Only a few futurists and godly prophets saw what September 15 would look like from the view of February 1.  The American Indians and Aborigines from Australia could have told us about wild fires. If their wisdom would have been sought and trusted. We do know what December 31 will look like if we neglect resilience, resourcefulness, respect and personal responsibility.

I don’t know if governments can be taught how to “test the spirits,” or “check the fruit.” I know the “fruit” of Resilience, Resourcefulness, Respect and Responsibility in your life and mine is worth the investment. The fruit of R4 is wisdom and insight. We need a ton of that.

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7 KJV).

©2020 D. Dean Benton,   Writer,  Wonderer,  Wisdom seeker

Feet First

THE AGE OF PRESSURE-FREE SOCKS

Going to get me some. But then, maybe not. The ad didn’t list a price. Could be we’ve been going at this stress and pressure thing upside down. We should try it feet first.

Reading Ezekiel 34. God is speaking to pastors. An Old Testament era pastor was not limited to preacher-types or the New Testament office of pastor. Pastoring was anyone responsible for caring for people. Mayors, governors, parents, religious leaders. Ezekiel and Yahweh got my attention and alerted my spirit. Given all I’m hearing futurists and prophets/teachers saying, I wonder if my pastoral heart is on track to talk about what my segment—sheep fold, tribe, digital parish—of God’s people is needing to hear.

“If I have my way, there are always plenty of great books to read and a good collection of classical and other instrumental music to comb the tangles from our stressed-out psyches and provide food for the soul.”  Gloria Gaither

I like that line—“to comb the tangles from our stressed-out psyches….” We watched a youTube clip about a young woman combing out her dreadlocks after six years. The comb-out took two or three people 5-6 days. It is obvious that “tangles in our stressed-out psyches” will take time to bring healing and installation of new life approach.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the widely-used words—scarcity-thinking. This permeates the world as if we are in a sum-zero closed system. That is one of the “absolutes” that pushes the protesters (not rioters) and fuels our fears. It contradicts what a reasoned reading of the Bible tells us about God and His creation. God’s favorite words (my current guess) are Abundance, Creativity, Redemption and Stewardship.

Over the past three-four months, I have been driven to tears by the revelations and teaching of two writers/teachers: Joel Salatin talking about agriculture and livestock. I was reading The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs in the car on a big-box store parking lot and felt tears on my cheeks. I felt the closeness of Jesus and the need to repent of mankind’s bad use of land and the open future if we can get this right—I caught a small glimpse of what “I’ll heal your land” might look like.

The other is Dr. Tim Elmore’s brand-new book, The Pandemic Population—Eight Strategies to help Generation Z Rediscover hope after Coronavirus.

Elmore is a student of students and generations. He sees big similarities between Gen Z and the Silent Generation also known as Builders born 1929-1945. This includes me! I have seen Builders as the earlier generation going through the Great Depression and World War II, with the Silent Generation following. The Builders became Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation. Most of the great mission programs and non-profit organization were built by this group. I identify with the Silent Generation and our parents being the Builders. I sure don’t feel that I fit into the Builder’s profile.

Dr. Elmore says

“…although there are similarities in the hardships faced between the Silent/Builder Generation and Generation Z, there are remarkable differences in the outcomes. The deciding factor in this change…is the narrative with which each generation engaged the challenges they faced. When the Builder/Silent Generation faced hardship, they were encouraged to be resilient, resourceful, and respectful. When Gen Z faced similar hardships, they were encouraged to be savvy, cynical, and stoic. If we want to change the outcome, we’ve got to change how we lead Generation Z through the challenges they face.”

Can you hear “how to deal with scarcity” in those words?

Elmore uses the research of developmental psychologist Emmy Werner on children’s resilience. Ms. Werner was a child in Europe during World War II. She didn’t study or write from the cheap seats! As an adult, Werner studied the letters, journal entries, and diaries of 200 hundred child witnesses, then interviewed the survivors to learn about their experiences. Dr. Elmore says, “In her book Through the Eyes of Innocents, she writes that many of the kids became adults who held ‘an extraordinary affirmation of life.’”

When I read those words, I was stunned. Isn’t that what we desire and pray that our young will experience and attain through this cultural upheaval and Pandemic? What are the chances? How will they shed the cynicism, hopelessness, nihilism, ignorance of history and doubt that they have a reason to view their future with excitement? I hear in this study words for all generations: Resilience, Resourcefulness, Respect.

Since this is Suicide Awareness Week, this feels urgent and healing and strategies scream for listeners. Four takeaways Ms. Werner found that made a difference:

  1. EXPOSURE—Limited

Werner found that kids exposed to much calamity for many hours fared worse; the ones who had a limited amount early on, fared better. Elmore advises to put boundaries on the amount of news the kids watch. Not just kids!

Do you know the phrase, Fear of missing out—FoMO? It is a pervasive apprehension of being absent or missing important bulletins. This fear turns on an alert switch—a desire to stay continually connected. We are news junkies. We have become tuned in to all the prophets and futurists. We want to know what they are hearing from God, the latest gossip among the angels and any and every instruction from Holy Spirit. FoMO! The prophet’s latest word—which I want to hear—can lead to adrenal overload.

  1. CAREGIVERS—Loving

“A caring adult offering support was a game changer for how the kids in this research turned out as adults. These kids had adults who led them intentionally, encouraged them, and offered emotional guidance. The good news is—the adult doesn’t have to be a parent. The key is a trusted adult was present to offer guidance and support. Today, the same is true. We must offer clear guidance, emotional support, and encouragement.” (The Pandemic Population, Page 29).

  1. LEADERSHIP—Calm

“When uncertainty or danger strikes, children are ‘wired’ to look to their caregivers to interpret how safe they should feel. When the threat system is on too long without relief, physical and mental health problems can result.” (Werner)

“The key is for the kids to have an adult who continues normal routines that provide security and order amidst what may feel like chaos…the presence of a calm adult can even reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in a child’s body. This means that you as their leader must practice self-care so you are ready to offer calm leadership in a time of uncertainty.” (Elmore)

We are interacting with more than “what may feel like chaos.” There are invading revolutionaries on the streets and a pandemic in the air. Whatever we formerly thought of as up is now deemed down and all that once was right is being called wrong. Invaders are intent and active in destroying every value and virtue that gives us guardrails and handrails. It is not what feels like chaos, it is chaos. Leaders are at a loss as much as the children. It seems to me that a good question is, “What the hell is going on?” When anarchists scream outside a hospital “I hope they die,” that is witchcraft in action. They are calling upon satan and evil to take control. That is why observers called their behavior “demonic,” and the look on the rioter’s faces, evil.

Calm leadership is not an appeal for pretending that all is well or there is no reason for concern. Andy Stanley says we cannot promise certainty. We can pledge clarity and authenticity. Leaders can be transparent about their own fears when appropriate and be clear about actions being taken to fortify the gates. Age-appropriate transparency is always a good thing. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Nehemiah were prophets that clearly announced what they were hearing with a vision of the future. I like Jeremiah’s EQ. He prefaced his pronouncements with, “I really hate to tell you this….” And he cried when the news was “Pack, we’re moving.”

A pastor—parent, preacher—all responsible for giving care—do so by asking teens…

  • How is this affecting you?
  • What are you feeling?
  • What do you see as a worse-case scenario?
  • How would you want this to turn out?

The thinking about teens voting is that since they are going to be affected by what we decide, they should have a voice. My thinking is since they are wearing a mask, listen to the news and have an opinion, they should have a safe place to say, “I’m scared and this sucks! I think we should….”

Ever wonder what a “bejeebers” is? Just so you know—

“To shock or frighten one very suddenly or severely.”

I was listening to politicians and news people talking about a possible scenario immediately after the 2020 election. It shook the bejeebers out of me! I’m wondering how to prepare. Do we buy fire arms? Stockpile survival food? Put iron bars on the windows? Move to a cave with two massive dogs named Bruno and Killer? If I’m feeling those things, I know people around me are also and Gen Z, Millennials have the same anxieties. Resilience is grow-able.

  1. CALLINGPURPOSE

“…Werner’s research shows that adult leaders who embrace faith in a ‘higher power’ were able to guide kids into more resilient responses after a calamity. Ann Masten, professor at the Institute for Child Development at University of Minnesota, found ‘having a sense of purpose helps, too’” (Elmore, Page 30-31).

Gen X, Gen Z, Millenniels question what their lives are going to be. What about their calling, their desire to marry, have children, career? Some of my friends’ ministries have been shut down by the pandemic as if someone hit a kill switch. Paraphrasing, “What am I to do so I can get back to what I was created to do and do well?”

“…anxiety has replaced excitement about the future” (Tim Elmore).

I have no word from the Lord that we will ever return to what “it use to was.” So we look under the hood to ask if our talent, gift or loved activity is the primary thing. What if talent, gift or what we love to do is a tool? What do we want them to accomplish? After you have used your best in Holy Spirit anointing, what do you want to have happened? Someone learn something? Someone decide to follow Jesus? Healed? Delivered from a bondage-stronghold? Empowered? Equipped? Encouraged to give it a better shot? It is doubtful that those will ever be out of date—there is no “herd immunity” for those needs. Comfort—Equipped. Empowered, Encouraged.

“‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 40:1).

Grow these:   Resilience, Resourcefulness, Respect

©2020 D. Dean Benton –writer, wonderer