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

The Back Story

A May Sunday afternoon. It was Mother’s Day and my wife’s birthday. Sunday church had disappointed us. Jesus didn’t show up and the congregation was sorry we had. When the preacher says, “Lock up when you leave,” I evaluate how much he valued the morning and me.

Half-way to our son’s house, the van quit running. The auxiliary battery was discharging and in the process drained the main battery. It’s quiet on a highway next to corn and an abandoned farm house on Mother’s Day. Before cell phones. We were 25 miles to the closest gas station.

I could see a farm house north of us about quarter of a mile. I could hear dogs barking. I assumed a patrolman would come by—patrol cars are thick on that highway when I am speeding. I sure didn’t want to walk to the farm house to use the phone.

Carole went to her bunk. I talked to myself about it being a terrible way to celebrate Mother’s Day and her birthday. After an hour or two, I determined that no cop was going to drop by and Jesus probably wasn’t either. I started to the farm house.

There were two dogs. Big dogs and they were on chains—log chains. A tall woman came out onto the porch with a shotgun under her right arm.

“What do you want?”

“May I use your phone? Vehicle is broke down.”

“I don’t have a pay phone.”

“I’ve got a phone credit card. Won’t cost you anything.”

It took her several minutes to decide. I think she first decided on “NO!” I told her that Carole was in the van—being her birthday and all…. I played the pathetic card. I had played the “I’m a pastor” card earlier which didn’t mean anything to her. The woman reluctantly said I could use the phone, but with warnings.

The dogs were not just unfriendly; they had vicious down in spades.

“You try anything and I’ll unhook those dogs…..”

I tried to reassure her I just wanted to use her phone. I never did figure out what she thought I was going to “try.” She was bigger than me and could have taken me out. Only a suicidal fool would go up against that cannon under arm, let alone subject himself to being mauled by the faux grizzlies just outside the door.

Doug didn’t answer on my first try. The delay was only proof that I was trying something funny. Doug picked up the second or third try. I explained where we were—just head west on 30 until you find us. Quick.

I had to decide my strategy to get past the dogs and get far enough away that I was out of shotgun and beast range without running. I offered to leave $5 for her trouble. I laid $10 on the table—which was half the morning offering—and told her I appreciated her help. She reminded me unhooking the dogs was also still on the table.

I have spent years feeling bad about Carole’s birthday and slim Mother’s Day festivities. I’m not sure she ever believed my story of the death-defying visit to that house.  It is true.

What terrifies a person to that degree? Was she an early feminist who hated all men and trusted no man?  There is a story behind that lady. I’m sorry that the women who have been publicly vitriolic in recent weeks and used the broad brush about all men. Those ladies have stories.  What do they require to feel justice has been served? To siphon the venom? To heal the hurt?

We were visiting in the home of a single friend. Carole mentioned to her it wouldn’t be long before she could put away the wasp spray.

“I keep it close to the door in case someone comes to the door.”

Note to self: Keep cellphone charged!

(c) 2018 D. Dean Benton    Have you checked out my new ebook? Meandering–https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/889323 or at Goodreads.

 

Razor Wire at my Office Door

I don’t remember many rules when our children were young. They have permission to remind me. Of course there were some:

  1. Don’t play marbles on the freeway.
  2. Don’t sleep in the subway
  3. Wear your seatbelt
  4. Lock the doors

There were rules about interpersonal behavior.

  1. Don’t disrespect your mother
  2. Dad can be instructed, “Stay out of this. I’ve got it!”
  3. Children can appeal verdicts to explain extenuating circumstances.
  4. Each of us let the other three know where we were going, with whom and when to expect to return. That led to announcements we still honor: “I’m headed for the bathroom….”
  5. We were to alert the household, “I’m really angry, but it has nothing to do with you.”
  6. Flatulence is to be expressed privately and “never say the word fart within hearing of your sibling or parent.”

There was one rule that domineered all others. No one was to say to sibling, child or parent, “Shut up.” We used a lot of words, but “Just shut up,” was an invitation to an invasion of your space.

I didn’t smile when the Senator Hirona from Hawaii said to “All men…”

“Guess who’s perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It’s the men in this country. I just want to say to the men in this country, just shut up! And step up. Do the right thing for a change.”

She does not represent my state or district! I am not her constituent or husband. She has no jurisdiction on our street, district, state or home. How rude! She doesn’t get to write on my permanent record. How has she come to the conclusion the men in Iowa are all rutting antelope?

I believe that sexual assault happened to Ms. Ford. Based upon our study of child abuse and multiple personalities, I think the assault happened years before she was 15. Above all else, I want her to find healing and peace. To me, there does not appear to be any concrete evidence that her memories about Kavanaugh are accurate. But I believe she has “memories” about him. Where did they come from?

I take seriously every statement when someone says they’ve been assaulted. My concern is that this “guilty until proven innocent” insurrection will make it tougher for women or men who have indeed been accosted.

The last person I would have reached out to in Ms. Ford’s situation would be a politician and then plead that I have no political motives. I would have called the cops! I wouldn’t have written to the WoPo unless that publication would help me with my agenda.

ANGER ABOUNDS

Speaking of rules, when I was studying the literature on anger for my book, Turn Back the Tirade, an anger researcher said to ask, “What would satisfy your anger? What do you need to feel that justice has been served?” A lady asked to talk to me after a seminar. She told me a story that makes Swetnick’s story pale. I asked her what would make her feel justice had been served. She described in graphic detail a 457 magnum pistol and close range shot to a male forehead.

One of three women will be sexually abused, assaulted or harassed (some say before age 18 while others say during their lifetime). You do the math. How many in our country? My first editions of “Tirade” and the seminar was titled, “Stop Being So Damned Mad!” Anger not dealt with can, according to the scripture, lead us into damnation. Public castration or lynching of Kavanaugh will not satisfy their hurt. He may be a scape goat, but he cannot be the healing Lamb.

I have placed razor wire at the entrance of my office in case a female or Democrat attempts to enter. From this point, I will frisk my wife for hidden recording wires.

Of course that is not true, but that is where this is leading, if not there already. I have no data. I’m wondering how many watching this drama have changed the way they view or interact with the opposite sex.

There is a loud scream that we Americans do not value women. That accusation has made me ask if I value women, how I express that and what do I do that makes women question whether I do? Can you help me?

I am praying for the Kavenaugh family, Dr. Ford and USA.

©2018 D. Dean Benton—

writer

wonderer

witness

white guy—old white guy

deplorable.

Six Things God Hates–if anyone cares.

Number two is “a lying tongue.”  Proverbs 6

The Ten Commandments are not only personal they are guard rails for human gatherings. Families, cities, nations. God gave them to Israel as a template for His People to show the world.

#9—you shall not bear false witness…(Exodus 20:16).

There are several ways in which false witness can be borne. A person can help spread a rumor and thus join hands with a perpetrator. One can indulge false witness by turning a blind eye when truth is known. Someone can determine to bear false witness and therefore be guilty of premeditation. A person can simply fail to come forward with the truth or insinuate falsehood without actually saying it is so. And, perhaps worst of all, a person can spread gossip about another, thus engaging in some of the worst forms of character assassination. The Bible Hub—Internet)

The Commandments as a whole are about the only way a community can survive. These ten specifics carry their own consequence when followed and when they are ignored or broken. We have witnessed the world disregard all ten. When the FBI came by to vet me for a high ranking government job, they found strong evidence I had broken several. I’ve been trying to figure out the inevitable consequences of bearing false witness.

We do not know if Dr. Ford is bearing false witness. In a setting where the innocent must prove their innocence, the accusation is adequate. There is no reason for her to say anymore. The damage is done.

Sexual misconduct is wrong and has consequences. My issue is the timing is conveniently timely for one world view. The whole thing doesn’t pass the smell test. The process is polluted and skewed.  Dr. Ford should testify.

This Kavanaugh vs. Ford issue is almost the perfect storm. It is turning upside down the very basis of a Constitutional government. “Innocence until proven guilty.” In what world does that still hold true?

The driving force behind this affirmation block is what has become America’s # 1 value. The delay is to force the President to put up someone who will protect Roe v Wade. Judge Brett Kavenaugh is inconsequential, collateral damage. I have yet to hear the Judge give any indication he was on any such mission to take down that law.

For many days I have been burdened that this may change the way we do government. It may be a soft coup where only a few lives are ruined. Nonconsequential collateral damage. And the decision making power will rest in the hands of accusers, delayers and the loudest and most vicious.

Before you decide about the upheaval, I would like for you to list to a Malcom Gladwell conversation about the workings of the mind. It added to what I’ve learned from brain specialists. The primary example in the podcast is Brian Williams of NBC.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/revisionist-history/id1119389968

Click on #7 “Free Brian Williams.” It opens to another list. Click on #28—”Free Brian Williams.” It is audio.

This doesn’t prove anything. It does open a possible explanation of what happened.

I am praying for Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh and the Government of the USA.

Thank you

©2018 D. Dean Benton

One Strategy

 

“…your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

(Matthew 6:9-13).

That prayer has been assumed to mean “some day” or “after Jesus comes.” Let’s see if it works in context. “Give us…our daily bread—some day.” “And forgive us our sins—someday.”  Doesn’t work, does it? Jesus was teaching us to pray in “this day” context.

Pastor Paula White said in a sermon last weekend, “Culture is not changed; it is created.”

Nothing I’ve heard recently has so motivated me. It is absolutely true whether we are talking about an office culture, church culture, personal culture or a national culture. The reason God chose and commissioned Abraham was that he would lay the groundwork for all the nations of the earth to live in a righteous culture and the Hebrews would show the template.

Paint me a word picture of what a righteous culture looks like to you. Old Testament prophets had a clear picture and the New Testament gave us tools for the picture to be activated. Amos said, “Let justice roll down like waters….”

“But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.”

I believe in the Second Coming, but it is not an escape clause. God is not content with passivity.

Before a righteous culture can be created, we have to know what it looks like, or what we perceive it to be. It surely doesn’t mean church twice on Sunday and six other times a week and all songs in the same key and beat.

Carole and I watched the movie, “Woman Walks Ahead.” It is the story of a female artist from Brooklyn going west to paint the portrait of Sitting Bull. The movie is not 100% historically accurate in all details, but in the details that matter it is grisly accurate. Say Sitting Bull, General Custer, Wounded Knee or any current reservation and you realize the words do not describe justice rolling down like water.

I’m not too keen on Colin Kaepernick being rewarded for his behavior. He offered no positive, workable alternatives to what seemed to many to be disrespect for authority, police, military and symbols of American heritage. I applaud him for what he protests because the alleged injustice contradicts a righteous culture in a righteous nation.

Let’s stop saying “Social justice,” and call it “justice” or “injustice.” A qualifier is not needed.

A couple of things serve as foundation and umbrella: 1. God loves every person. 2. Every ethnicity and nation has peculiar qualities and treasures to be celebrated.

God’s Kingdom People had a choice when the NFL started taking a knee. We were so outraged, however, that kneeling during the National Anthem as a protest was seen by some of the population as a good thing with no repercussions, but a coach could lose his job if he knelt to pray with his team. While Colin Kaepernick was celebrated, Tim Tebow was ridiculed for kneeling to pray. That adds up to craziness for some of us. The solution is not to protest just to do more protesting.

The Kingdom—those who have a platform/influence—could recognize the injustice and make some noise about searching for healing and solutions. I don’t think I can explain to you what I was feeling about the injustice toward Native Americans as I watched Sitting Bull be assassinated, or hundreds of his kin murdered. There is no way to fix—change—what happened at Wounded Knee or the Trail of Tears. There is no way to change World (not just Civil War variety) slavery. We can express regret, repentance for whatever our circle of relationships of those whose forbearers suffered. The Kingdom—empowered by the Holy Spirit should be able to find God’s way to create a culture where protests are not needed. Why did we wait until Kaepernick was needed—for whatever his real reasons were? God’s people of specific callings and anointing should have seen the injustice—and found ways to deal with it. What kind of national culture do we need so that kind of righteousness is the norm? More people are in slavery today than were in the 1800s.

Chris Vallotten, one of the pastors at Bethel Church in Redding, California, reported that Bethel raised and gave away $1.2 million to those who lost homes in the summer fires. Bethel’s culture is miracles, signs, wonders, worship and generosity.

I’m wrestling with who we are and where we are in our ministry and how to create a culture. I’ve recently listened to a conversation with the head of Coke Consolidated—17,000 employees—and how they create and maintain. At the same time I heard Tyler Perry say, “Climb and maintain.” Here’s where I am. I’m studying two books with some conversation with authors. They teach how Jesus built culture, disciples and prepared the first Followers.

The Master’s Plan of Evangelism,  Robert E. Coleman, 1963, (Revell)

Mentoring Like Jesus, Reggie Campbell, 2017

The next step is to build interactive, groups. The words Small Groups have lost their meaning. “True North” groups is a widely used terms for effective secular groups. Coke Consolidated adopted Radical Mentoring material (Reggie Campbell) for groups of eight that last a year. Four people from the company and four from the community. (Enter Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. “Accelerating Culture Parts” 1 & 2)

I am re-examining Ralph Neighbour Jr.’s book, “Where Do We Go From Here?” (Touch Publications-1990) How to build a church on cell groups, not just being a church that has small groups.  A new culture offers a welcoming alternative that is seen as beneficial and makes senses.

I would emphasize Kingdom groups.

  1. Groups to learn about Jesus’ person, work and character.
  2. Then train how to effectively mentor.
  3. What is the culture you seek to create?
  4. The target of culture creation begins with who God has called you to and those for whom you have a vision. Single-parenting to 4th graders.

I want to be in that community. It involves some academics. It also lays ground work to create the culture that will heal social divides, expands personal capabilities and ultimately reinforce a righteous western civilization.

THY KINGDOM COME.

©2018 D. Dean Benton        dean@deanbenton.org

 

Creating Inner Culture

I’ve been studying, thinking and writing about American culture. The culture wars are important. As American culture goes, so goes Western Civilization. On my dark days, it looks like Western Civilization has been overtaken by barbarians.

Okay, come on back. Unglaze your eyes. Solving that is put off to another blog. What about personal culture? Constructing “the inner person”.

Culture is not changed; culture is created.

A solid barrier reef against mental illness at worst and the continuum of depression is self-awareness. Beware and be careful of the agreements you make. An agreement depends upon a prior suggestion or accusation. Suggestions and accusations come from all directions. Joel Osteen describes agreements in almost every sermon:

“I’ll never marry.”

“I’ll always be stuck in this subsistence job.”

“No one will ever see value in my abilities.”

“I’m going to turn out just like…no matter what I do.”

That’s a few possible agreement statements that determine response, then action/lack thereof and the guides for decisions that follow. This is such a pervasive assault that your relationship with Jesus is often determined by agreements than repelled. I’m tempted to say your destiny is determined by the agreements you make and are unwilling or incapable of breaking, refuting.

After breaking agreements, Holy Spirit can help us create a healthy, productive inner culture.

John Eldredge has been talking about agreements in recent podcasts. He has been very helpful for my understanding. I list a link below that will take you to podcasts which you can listen to on your mobile device or on your computer.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/john-eldredge-and-ransomed-heart-audio/id260843816

Click on “Agreements, Part l” from the list. Part 2 is reached in the same manner.

John Eldredge will lead to ways to break the agreements. Then you can begin to create an inner culture that will produce Kingdom intents and God’s will. I’m thinking lately that barriers to hearing God’s voice and doing His will, thereby fulfilling His call or current assignment are tied up with agreements.

If you were to excavate your history around every disappointment, trauma, defeat and judgments made of you by peers, parents, teachers and/or your important people, you will find agreements that are blocking your advancement. Some agreements work positively, like forgiveness.

If inner culture is also created, part of my personal culture must be intentional  encouragement that inspires positive agreement in family, peers, people who need God’s touch.  “I will….”

Talking to someone you trust or a “tribe” is the best tool in the box.

Let me know how it goes.

©2018 D. Dean Benton—–writer, wonderer, witness—— https://www.deanbenton.org/

Who Wants to Be a Supreme Court Judge?

Lindsay Graham has gotten my attention and appreciation over the past two weeks with his memorial to John McCain and his humorous, solid description of the court room. His apology to the circus was funny and descriptive—“not entertaining and not fit for children.”

I watched Brett Kavenaugh’s daughters as they observed the proceedings. I tried to imagine Mr. and Mrs. Kavenaugh telling their girls they can break glass ceilings and one day they could sit on the Supreme bench, a Governor’s chair, or in the Senate chamber. After watching the nominee run the gauntlet of Borkers and then being subjected to insane questioning and protestors paid out of a paper sack, I wonder how inviting they see it.

I’m concerned about youth watching these hearings and the abuse of government officials deciding that public service is a terrible career choice.

Brett Kavanaugh’s self-description reached into my hostility lined bag of sarcasm:

“I am an optimist. I live on the sunrise side of the mountain and not the sunset side.”

Chris Stirewalt, writer, historian and political commentator writes in his Half-Time Report:

HOLY MOSES, WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE

The biblical story of the children of Israel is one of forgetfulness.

When the Israelites forget the God of Abraham who made them and protects them still, they suffer the consequences at the hands of a succession of sufferings in a cruel and fallen world. Sometimes it is in Egypt, sometimes it is in Babylon and sometimes it is in an occupation of their own promised land.

In their pain they cry out to their maker for release and relief, and they are delivered. But even before Moses can return to them with the law, Aaron and the others are already forgetting themselves and the great Jehovah who rescued them. Their leader finds them already worshiping at the feet of the golden calf.

It is the story of the ancient Hebrews, but it is also very much the story of Americans. When we forget the suffering brought on by our failings we are sure to fail again.

Americans are watching today as generation passes on in poignant fashion. The split-screen remembrances of Aretha Franklin and John McCain are meaningful and moving on their own. Two extraordinary lives of achievements that can never be equaled.

No matter your language, faith, color or creed, to listen to Franklin sing “How I Got Over” would make any person at least consider the possibility that God is real and His spirit is in our midst.

No matter your politics or preferred policies, McCain’s sacrifice for the country he served would give even the most cold-hearted cynic reason to think that there is something truly exceptional about our nation.

But there is something instructive about what is happening to their generation and to our country in this moment.

Baby Boomers’ ascendance changed the world. What was, at the time, the largest age cohort in American history essentially invented the concept of adolescence, bent the titans of industry to their whims of taste in culture and commerce and reinvented our politics.

The generation’s arrival into adult life was marked with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In the 15 years that followed our country endured an era of disruption and upheaval marred by profound corruption in the government, America’s first defeat at war, domestic insurrections in our largest cities and a crisis in confidence about the American experiment.

Franklin knew well the wrenching pain that surrounded the struggle for the descendants of slaves to know real equality in the nation that had denied it to them and their forbearers.

McCain knew well the consequences when our government lies about the conduct of war and demands the sacrifices of its people in pursuit of unclear objectives.

But we are forgetting their lessons.

We live in an era where issues of race are recklessly exploited for narrow political advantages. We also live in an era where the very definitions of truth and accountability are in doubt.

Part of the reason we are so careless in playing with matters so potent is that those individuals who lived through the consequences of our past forgetfulness are leaving our presence. We are losing our collective memory as we lose those who paid the price when we had lost our way before.

We join our prayers with those in mourning but we pray also that we will not have to suffer so much as the generation before in order to learn the same lesson of the Israelites.

Oh, God!

  1. (c)2018   D. Dean Benton

Glad to announce the launch of our new self-hosted website:

Benton Books, Blogs, Blurbs.

The digital address is

“https://www.deanbenton.org/

Hey, come look it over, lend us your ear:                 Benton Books, Blogs, Blurbs

Affirmations

In 2016 I purchased webmail—email. To do that I had to also purchase a website. I didn’t have time to work on the website, so I paused it. Three weeks ago, I participated in a Michael Hyatt webinar on setting up a website. We have a website already, but it is static. I wanted a site I could host—change content to suit the day. On the day I purchased the website they were pushing, I got an invoice for my 2016 idle website. I decided to cancel the new one and get the 2016 version operational. Closing out one and updating the other turned into a miserable day.

The webinar, host and website on which I would eventually post advertised that I could get it operational in 5 minutes. Another paragraph said, “…okay about 30.”

This will be the 12th day of trying to get my new self-hosting website launched. Although frustrated, I have enjoyed some of the process because the end product would provide a place to advertise my new book, make my blog available to a larger audience and share some important resources for people who might not know about them.

This morning, I couldn’t login. The username or password that opened the lock last evening told me several reasons why I was suspended or blocked. I didn’t have time to talk to a person on chat. I had plans for prayer and lawn mowing before incoming rain.

The plan is to give me a larger—at least a more effective/efficient platform—voice. I took my prayer list of critical needs to Carole’s front porch. I have friends and family who are dealing with caskets, ICU, end of life, and infirmities that yield to no prayers or drugs and they won’t go away. I received communications describing those situations that need a response.  I had no words that were not threadbare or trite. The irony—which was pointed out to me during prayer time—I’m looking for a “larger voice” when I’m stalled with what I have. Not one of the words I would put on that website would fit the needs on my list.

“Jesus, do you mind going with me down the rabbit trail?”

The first question was, “What do my friends, cousins and hero need?” HIS PRESENCE! I’m not going to tell them that. Nothing sounds more trite or predictable. Did you hear about the little girl who was asked to pray before a meal? She began, “Dear Alexis….” She was embarrassed, but you can follow her thinking. Alexis hears the questions and answers. My people don’t need heavenly silence in addition to their emotional and physical pain.

At the second bend on the rabbit trail, I “heard” or realized something. I’m not too great with praise. Waving my hands or jumping is not my thing—although I appreciate what it means to others. Praise takes many forms. If you cannot “praise” then vocalize affirmations of what you believe about God.

“I believe God speaks to me with communication and activities that I currently need.”

That was quite a prayer time as I lifted my loved ones to the Father.

“Okay, Lord, what about that website?”

“Let’s conquer one universe at a time.”

Affirmations!

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

 

Where Is This Going?

“At least five times…the Faith has to all appearances gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases, it was the dog that died.” G. K. Chesterton, 20th Century.

“The task of redeeming Western society rests in a peculiar sense upon Christianity.” Reinhold Niebuhr, 20th Century.

With gift card in hand, I went to Starbucks to drink something refreshing and to read, then pray. The quotes above pleased me and then rattled me. This morning the unease remains. What if Niebuhr is right? What is my task in the challenge? And yours?

The Pope has warned the world about “Prosperity Preachers.” I don’t know who chose the photos accompanying the article.

In recent days, events, testimonies and scripture have pushed me to think through “prosperity,” and prosperity versus poverty. If we do not limit “prosperity” to money and connected benefits, I’m thinking (at least at the moment) that the basic prosperity message is an important piece of the “…redeeming of Western society.” Miracles, signs, wonders are agents.

Os Guinness is one of my favorite thinkers and writers. His parentage is the third branch of the Guinness empire. There were/are beer brewers, politicians/bankers and third, there were evangelists/missionaries. I cannot think of one institution that has affected me that does not track back to the Guinness vision and teaching. Os is a theologian, author and culture observer.

I’ve been wondering, as I read and watch the news and feel deep disgust at the incivility and anarchy in America, what is really going on? Where did this come from? Where is this taking us? Guinness’ 2014 book, Renaissance speaks to my question with the basic commission:

The task of redeeming Western society rests in a peculiar sense upon Christianity.

A five-story building burned recently. It is one of the downtown anchor buildings. It was 60-days from being finished repairing and updating. Firemen dumped 4 million gallons of water on it. It appears to me that only one corner of the building still stands. The rest is rubble. The sight has upset me—not just sadness over such a loss. Twelve million dollars had been invested in the remodeling and rehab. The rubble heap became, for me, an image of Western Culture making Niebuhr’s challenge feel totally impossible.

Guinness explains what is going on behind the nastiness on the streets, hatred between the “classes”, those in power and those who are building barricades to bring down the “ruling class.”

“…all civilizations, whatever their momentary grandeur, have an ultimate flimsiness that is paper thin and cannot hold back the barbarism.” (Guinness—page 17)

“The West has beaten back the totalitarian pretensions of both Hitler’s would-be master race in Germany and Stalin’s would-be master class in the Soviet Union. But it now stands weak and unsure of itself before its three current menaces: first, the equally totalitarian would-be master faith of Islamism from the Middle East; second, the increasingly totalitarian philosophy and zero-sum strategies of illiberal liberalism; and third, the self-destructive cultural chaos of the West’s own chosen ideas and lifestyles that are destroying its identity and sapping its former strength.” Page 19—Guinness)

I like Guinness’ take on all this. He wrote in 2013; it was published in 2014 so the Trump era has no possibility of cause and effect. It may shed light on why Trump was elected. The impending rubble motivated citizens to look for someone—a builder?

“What does our moment of transition to a post-Christian West mean for us? …only God knows. In terms of the past, we can see that the world that our parents and grandparents knew has gone forever—in terms of both the dominance of the West and the unrivaled status of the Christian faith in the West.”—page 24 Guinness.

Gone forever? How much of what makes it “The West”? We’re never going to use hymnbooks? It’s way beyond that. What if our institutions—as we know them—are going away? And the church is going to have a different task—forced to do evangelism differently and what we have trusted and treasured will have the opposite effect on others?

Paul writes to the Corinthians that the gospel is not just words, but power
A new book on Harry Truman. He never dreamed as a boy or young man of being a politician or a leader. There were several life defining events. One was when he realized he didn’t know what his purpose was, nor his philosophy including his grasp of a political purpose. He checked into a hotel in Kansas City to sort out, think through and establish core values and what he was to do.

That has increasingly spoken heavy to me. If the Church is a key player in “redeeming Western Society,” where do we fit in the mix? How important is it that we carve out time to do what Truman did?

Heavy on my heart.
©2018 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

NOW AVAILABLE
My New book: Meanderinghttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/889323

Words

From the Barna Group researchers.

Over the past 50 years, the use of religious, moral, ethical language has dropped 50%. In a population where 70% say they are Christian, about 7% have at least one spiritual conversation a week. Of those who regularly attend church, 13% speak with someone using biblical or spiritual language at least once per week.

Words that are not used, are abandoned and behavior is changed. Words matter! The new language—formerly not used in public, or “in a mixed crowd” has main stream appeal. How many times did you hear the F-word in public discourse last week? From a public platform?

It is not just “religious” words, but words of compassion, ethical words, moral words, words of respect. I don’t know that there is conspiracy to rid our world of those words, but I can make a case for that. As the use of these words have declined, the culture has become coarser.

We have come a long way from George Carlin’s “7 words you can’t use on TV.” He fixed that!

Malachi—Old Testament prophet described his culture:

“Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name” (Malachi 3:16).

Words influence behavior. Words can pollute the atmosphere or purify it.

For ministry centers, words are creative. In healing settings, testimonies are conveyors of God’s power—“This worked for me,” or “This is my journey through the darkness.”

“Sing them over again—wonderful words of life.”

©2018 D. Dean Benton     dean@deanbenton.org

Wonderer, Writer with expertise in Pondering & Meandering

Then There Is A Gap

My world feels a bit empty. A man I’ve known for 51 years went home to the Lord last week. Died in his sleep. Con and his family were parishioners who became partners in our ministry. He was part of the Iowa Hawkeyes marching band that went to the Rose Bowl, twice. He changed careers a couple times, went back to school and was a life-long learner.

We never watched a Hawkeye game together. That would have been an experience with Con. We seldom sang together. We did not see them frequently, but, I miss him. To me, Con was a cautious, but not resistant, thinker and Jesus follower. He was a questioner of all things spiritual, but he loved Jesus and followed Him. I enjoyed being with him he asked some of those questions and we talked about preachers and books. We never went fishing or tossed a ball. I was not invited to join in any of his outrageous adventures—like moving a piano through a second floor window with pulley and railroad tie. I don’t remember him ever telling me he thought I was a good singer or preacher, but he invested in our family in several ways.

It settled on me like a dark cloud—we no longer have Conrad praying for us. He and Martha and family prayed and undergirded us and in the process a transfer occurred. Some of that family’s Spiritual gifts and talents were transferred to our family members.

After writing on Abraham learning how to be a blessing and what it means to “bless”, I take more seriously that there really is a spiritual transfer from God’s “warehouse.” How that happens?

Just before I stepped to the pulpit to preach Con’s funeral message, I realized I was missing a hearing aid. Never happened before. I thought it hardly subtle—a satanic device to distract my focus. Hearing God is paramount to blessing in which transfer occurs. That is what the new book is about.

Dean’s new book: Meandering. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/889323

I encourage you to pray for your tribe and spiritual leaders. Our worlds become emptier when you are absent.

©2018 D. Dean Benton

Writer—Wonderer–Meanderer