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 “In” Crowd.

It is the most dreaded of all words.

“Insufficient.”

The two-letter prefix “in” changes everything. What was positive becomes negative. What made us smile or sigh in relief, that little “in” makes us hold our breath and then groan.

I read this book recommendation:

“As a career-long educator and a parent of teenagers, I found this book to be invaluable.

Was that a huge recommendation or a total dismissal? So big I can’t set a value on it, or without any value at all?

Can you think of other words that “in” is confusing? Now I’m suspicious when someone says, “Your blog is invaluable.”

Insignificant, insufficient, invaluable, inconsequential and insincere. Non-essential is easier to understand, but leaves little wiggle room.

From a blog by Sam Ranier. (He is an author, podcaster and pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church):

Every negative word has the power of one hundred positive words.  This idea comes from one of my mentors, Brad Waggoner. He challenged me to rethink the way I communicate, both personally and professionally.

Think of encouragement and discouragement on different sides of a scale. One hundred pieces of encouragement weigh the same as one piece of discouragement. 

Avoid these more powerful forms. 

Cynicism. This form of negativity is driven by a lack of hope. The cynic assumes the worst in people.

Speculation. Another powerful form of negativity occurs when you speculate about someone’s motives, assuming they are driven by self-interest.

Misinformation. Being negative without having all the facts….

Selectivity. This person uses only part of the story to emphasize negativity….

The political world, especially in political season, doesn’t bother with fact-checking and loves to generalize and practice scorched earth verbal policies. Campaigning often is an excuse for truth becoming thin—not transparent, but so thin you see right through it. Hyperbole is big!

hyperbole

[hīˈpərbəlē]

NOUN

Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

synonyms:

exaggeration · overstatement · magnification · amplification · embroidery · embellishment ·              overplaying · excess · overkill · purple prose · puffery

I love hyperbole when I’m describing an event or situation or when I count a crowd. “That ‘strike’ was three & one-half feet off the plate.” Senator Kennedy of Louisiana uses hyperbole effectively when he says things like,

“(This country) hasn’t had a budget since Moses walked the earth.”

Hyperbole is excused in politics even when lies are introduced; until lies and character canceling becomes course par.

I’m giving thought and thanks for those people who are and who make contributions that are…

    Sincere

     Significant

    Valuable

    Sufficient

     Consequential

Checking out of the in-crowd

©2020 D. Dean Benton—Writer & Wonderer

Recipes

It has come to this! I’m “sharing” recipes.

Have you tried a pinolillo? It is a drink that will “replace your ice tea habit.”

From Blue Zones:

In countries like Costa Rica where pinolillo has been widely consumed on a regular basis for centuries, it was traditionally ground with a mortar and pestle and served from a hollowed-out gourd.

It does sound inviting. However, I don’t have an ice-tea habit or mortar and pestle. I don’t think Walmart sells hollowed-out gourds. Have you tried a pinolillo? I’m not going to bother unless someone will verify it is worth the effort.

We were pastoring near Joliet when David & Karen Mains pastored Circle Church in Chicago. The ministry of David and Karen and the resources from Circle influenced us. It was during the Charismatic renewal with discussion and disagreements. Karen Mains shares a story of her own hunger for Holy Spirit and no desire to get crazy. Friends of the church had a missionary friend home on leave who came to speak at Circle Church. The missionary had been working on a Pacific Island when the Japanese captured it. She was kneeling waiting to be beheaded when the Holy Spirit spoke a Scripture verse to her. She attributed her saved life to that encounter.

The missionary stayed in the Mains’ home for ten days. That visit linked to Miss Karen’s hungering for Holy Spirit was a gift—someone to answer her questions. After many conversations, her guest said,

“When He, the spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.

You may know those are also Jesus’ words recorded by John in John 16:12-15. It was a life-altering shared “word.” Ms. Mains is not a Charismatic! but her walk with Holy Spirit is valued.

My Sunday began with evangelist Mario Murillo urging the Church to revisit Holy Spirit relationships. My Sunday closed with that story from Karen Mains. Now from a few hours’ distance, the messages seem very timely and pointed. At a time when chaos, uncertainty, confusion and questions are constant and weighted, Jesus’ words catch my attention.

“When He, the spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.

Holy Spirit, You are welcome, here. Come visit us.

©2020 D. Dean Benton—writer, wonderer, listener.

Voices In The Lawn

We once had a neighbor whom I didn’t know whether to shun, laugh at, protect myself against, or just enjoy his ideas. He was a college dropout and a tree-hugger. Oh, and he liked marijuana. Occasionally, I would see him lying on his front lawn and go check on his breathing. He was just reacting to an extended weed trip.

“What’re doing?” I asked him.

“Listening to the voices underneath the grass.”

The Shenandoah Valley farmer, Joel Saratin, is teaching me things I never gave much credence to. He didn’t give an altar call as I was reading, but I asked God to forgive me for being so ignorant and for not taking seriously agri-business environmentalists. And tree-huggers.

Do you know that a maple tree responds to a tree-tapping by sending sap to heal that wound which the maple syrup farmer will collect in a bucket? About 40 gallons of sap will become one gallon of maple syrup. The sap flow is consistent unless the wind blows. The tree feels the wind and stops the sap because a limb might be broken by the wind and a broken branch is a more serious wound than a hole in the tree trunk that will require the healing sap. The tree knows to store sap until the wind stops blowing—then the maple syrup fluid starts flowing again. Who knew?

The book of Genesis makes more sense when you know such things. And descriptions of Creation are more complex than I ever learned in Bible College or Seminary.

Think of yourself picking up a handful of healthy soil…

“…if you looked at this soil under an electron microscope, you might see a four-legged cow-looking thing with big floppy mandibles slogging through what looks like a swamp, grazing on ghoulish vegetation. All of a sudden you might see a six-legged interloper with a narwhal spear on his head run into the microscope frame and impale the cow-looking critter, sucking out its aqueous insides through the straw-spear.

“Before recovering from the shock of that violence, from the other side of the microscope frame charges a twelve-legged centipede-looking attacker with massive incisors that look like scissors on his head. He lops off the cow-looking dude’s head and gobbles it up into his tube-like body. The desiccated cow-like being vanishes into the marshy soil-scape, awaiting additional decomposition.

“Actually, soil…is a pulsing, thriving community of beings. Our cupped handful contains more beings than there are people on the face of the earth.”

Is that wild? Salatin is not finished:

“Now we know through the work at Stanford that these microscopic beings communicate. They actually have a language and respond to each other. They form alliances of symbiosis as well as predatory attack relationships.  (Page 51.)

“New research shows that trees in Africa being grazed by herbivores ping out a phenol message to change the chemical composition of the leaves to more bitterness.” (The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs, Joel Salatin, [Faith Words, Hatchet Book Group, 2016] Page 53

“…more beings than there are on the face of the earth in your cupped hands.”

Think about that. Somebody said, “Worse than finding a spider in your bedroom is to lose the spider in your bedroom.” Your body has 3 trillion bacteria inside.” And there is worry about a spider?

If we don’t know what is living in communities on own front lawn, what else don’t we know? How about the spirit world? My next blog is going to…I don’t want you to miss it.

©2020 D. Dean Benton –Writer, Wonderer, Wheat-Tender.

Sniffing out a new religion

“…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:5

All truth comes from God. This directive and skill is not a call to correct local rhetoric. The Godhead is bi-lingual and likes all truth. This is not a call to shun thinking that does not have the approval of a denomination, politic, theory or geography. It is not a call to refrain from wide-ranged thinking. The words from 2 Corinthians 10:5 are instruction to think thoroughly and measure every thought according to Jesus’ thinking.

The book and attached courses—White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo—are the current holy scriptures of the political Left. It is being called one of the most influential books in the nation. Major corporations and businesses are requiring all employees to read it and attend classes. I heard one lady who works for a company with 40,000 employees say it is mandatory. I want to know what business people and leaders in the 7 Mountains are thinking and who is mentoring them, so I’m reading White Fragility with subtitle: “Why it’s so hard for White People to talk about racism.”    (Beacon Press, ©2018. Beacon Press books are published under the auspices of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.)

Since this is intended by the Left to be the guiding principles of the world they are building, I want to know their intensions.

According to Ms. DiAngelo, the basis of whiteness is “…two key Western ideologies: individuality and objectivity.”

“…individualism holds that we are each unique and stand apart from others, even those within our social groups. Objectivity tells us that it is possible to be free of all bias.”

Ms. DiAngelo says, therefore, we must abandon and move away from thinking and embracing individualism and objectivity.

Two words that capture Marxism rhetoric: Individuality and Objectivity. That social, economic and political theory seeks in every encounter to transfer the “collective” for the individual.

 

Sanctification as a work of grace and subject has been stirring my thoughts. I wonder if the work of the Holy Spirit in us known as sanctification (among other things) is a sharpened awareness of our bias.

           INDIVIDUALITY

‘White’ as the Default

“If white Christians want to understand their privilege, they’re going to have to stop seeing ‘white’ as “the norm” and everything else as ‘diverse.’”

My first impression of that headline: Most of us, regardless of skin color think of ourselves as the norm and the center. Since I cannot imagine me as black, I must find the “center of gravity” with who I am and what I’ve experienced. Even the wounded and abused find solace in “Doesn’t everyone feel this way?”

The response to Jesus’ call to “Follow” is to put Him at the center of my universe and my ultimate “norm.” Genuine repentance and conversion is so radical that we intentionally trade self-centeredness and self-preoccupation for Him. That is what we mean when we say from an individualist place, “Jesus is Lord!” The cliché, “You cannot legislate morality,” is not exactly true. Socially and healthy culture does that exactly with traffic laws and ways to act in public that affect others. It is a strong statement—“Take up your cross and follow me.” What legislation cannot do is change a person’s heart or mind. The boy sentenced to sit on a chair in the corner refused to sit on the chair until he was physically forced. He said, “I may be sitting outside, but on the inside—in my heart—I’m standing up!”

If white is all you know, white is your default. I don’t know how it can be any other way until we choose a more healthy way by asking Jesus to become our norm. If black is all you know, black is your default. Sanctification may bring to life in each person’s spirit our awareness we are not the center of the universe—we have bias—we have preferences. That is not bad. What happens in the grace act is that we now are empowered to decide that what I prefer damages or limits someone else, therefore, I will forego my comfort or pleasure—(The principle is ‘I will no longer eat meat offered to idols if it causes someone to stumble)—so my brother or sister can move forward. When individuals no longer have that option, but are forced to give up what they value, something precious to freedom has been lost.

Dr. Shelby Steel was impacted by the thinking and teachings of comedian/social activist/Marxist Dick Gregory. Steel says about his moving into that mindset,

“I learned to remake the world around the central truth of global racism. To do this I took on the notion…that man, loosely speaking, was a cipher, a non-individual creature, who was pushed and abutted by forces much larger than himself. I did not altogether deny free will, but intellectually I took on the sophistication that it was largely a delusion of the common man, a kitschy individualism that Americans like to flatter themselves with.

“I learned” (he’s talking about his change in the 1960s) “that my group identity as a black was more important than my individuality.” (White Guilt, ©2006, Harper Perennial)

Somewhere in his writing or interviews, Mr. Steel says it was his loss as an individual that affected him.

DiAngelo, if I understand what she is saying, contends that no one is unique. We are but the product of our culture. Nothing unique. As a Jesus Follower, I wonder if I have my basic belief about me from Campus Crusade’s Four Spiritual Laws—“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”—Law One and Law Four: “Individually we must receive Jesus….” Or from Jeremiah 1:4:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

Then I’m forced to decide if that revelation is specific to Jeremiah or true for all.

To use Steel’s word—in Marxism and the new culture that is being demanded in USA—each of us are but ciphers in the collective. We will have no value beyond that—we must abandon our self to support the “common good.” So says the proposed new normal.

I ran onto an answer to my question:  For what wickedness shall I turn from if I desire God to hear, forgive and heal? Micah 6 raises its own question in verse 8, “What does the Lord require of you?”

  1. Act justly
  2. Love mercy
  3. Walk humbly with your God.

What do you mean, justly, mercy, humbly? The Message translation lays it out pretty clearly:

“But he’s (God) already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

“Attention! God calls out to the city! ‘If you know what’s good for you, you’ll listen. So listen, all of you! This is serious business.” (Micah)

The rest of chapter six is fodder for contemplating wickedness—the kind of behavior that breaks people into many pieces. It also defines “worldliness.”

Having defined wickedness, we come to the ultimate question: How does God see individuals? How does God see you? Jesus seems to like the concept of whosoever for example, “…whosoever believes in me shall have everlasting life.”

     OBJECTIVITY

I keep getting White Fragility confused with White Frigidity. Ms. DiAngelo says in White Fragility,

“We must be willing to consider that unless we have devoted intentional and ongoing study, our opinions are necessarily uninformed, even ignorant.” (page 8)

“Interrupting the forces of racism is ongoing, lifelong work because the forces conditioning us into racist frameworks are always at play; our learning will never be finished” (Page 9).

“Many white people simply do not understand the process of socialization, and this is our next challenge,” DiAngelo says.

This sounds to me, and I will be glad to be wrong, a call to Marxism with the elites as our teachers in re-education classes. I’m wondering if that is what’s going on already.

“White” is not about your skin, but your individual pattern inside: how you think, what you are, why you do what you do and what dominates your soul. When you say that you know you better than anyone else and you are not “white” as defined, but you are told that your very denial is proof positive that you are! DiAngelo says, “These ideologies (Individualism and Objectivity) make it very difficult for white people to explore the collective aspects of the white experience.” So, we cannot know our white-ness or even see our bias—we are blind to it. And this white-ness is not removable—cannot be forgiven or cleansed. White characteristics are unique only to one race. (Note link below.)

Shelby Steel sees a changed interpretation of whites in the 1960s that dominates.

“…a new moral/racial iconography in which whiteness became more an icon of racial evil than of racial supremacy.” (106)

Imperative that we bring this, what is becoming primary thought in America, to compare with Jesus. “Bring it to obedience to Christ.”  Message Bible:”

“The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there!…The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tear down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

Dr. Ed Stetzer is Chair of Billy Graham      at Wheaton. I’ve been listening and reading his books for several years. As a “Wheat Tender” he commissioned a group of academics to respond to White Fragility. The book outline and the responding essays are available at:

https://t.co/JmwkJVNU2G?amp=1    You will see on the left side of the linked page other responses to the doctrines of what is called a “Secular Religion.”  The articles help me understand what is going on.

©2020 D. Dean Benton –writer, wonderer, wheat-tender

Additional resources:

https://www.glennbeck.com/theblaze-tv/here-are-the-statistics-black-lives-matter-attack-on-the-nuclear-family-is-dangerous

 

https://www.artofmanliness.com/category/podcast/  #528 “The Rise of Secular Religion & New Puritanism.” Not a religious message, rather a discussion of philosophies that bear upon us.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/07/health/white-fragility-robin-diangelo-wellness/index.html

Aspects and Assumptions of White Culture from Smithsonian.

https://www.bing.com/search?q=aspects+and+assumptions+of+white+culture&form=ANSPH1&refig=39cf9e44e0964068b464a79126c457d2&pc=U531&sp=1&qs=AS&pq=aspects+and+assump&sk=PRES1&sc=1-18&cvid=39cf9e44e0964068b464a79126c457d2

 

Tending the Wheat

Dr. Ben Haden pastored First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga. His bio is astonishing. His ministry was broadcast and published around the world and welcomed into my study. A former newsman, he told stories and declared Jesus. Ben Haden died in 2013 at age 88. His sermons and teaching had been on radio, TV and online for 47 years.

I think this story is about Haden: Someone said to him he should save some of his stories for himself. He responded with, “If I don’t share them, God will stop giving them to me.”

His line provokes me and stimulates me to get the stories to you ASAP. This is elbowing into my soul:

     FREEDOM—

“…the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom” (Os Guinness).

The forecast has been that America’s enemies would use “Freedom” and “Rights” against us to defeat and destroy us. Those who can’t tell you the Third Commandment or the Fourth Amendment are articulate about the First Amendment—the part about free speech.

Free societies must win freedom, maintain freedom and defend it. There are public declarations by people in the House of Representatives talking about replacing our government and turning USA into a Muslim state. How do we defend freedom from destruction, while gifting those enemies with freedom of speech? Dicey!

“…freedom always faces a fundamental historical challenge. Although glorious, free societies are few, far between and fleeting. In the past, the high view of human dignity and independence that free societies require was attained by only two societies with world influence: the Greeks with their view of the logos, or reason within each person, and the Jews with their notion of the call of God to each person.

“   freedom faces a fundamental political challenge. Free societies must always maintain their freedom on two levels at once: at the level of the nation’s constitution and at the level of their citizen’s convictions. If the structures of liberty are well built, they last as long as they are well maintained, whereas the spirit of liberty and the habits of the heart must be reinvigorated from generation to generation.

“    freedom always faces a fundamental moral challenge. Freedom requires order and therefore restraint, yet the only restraint that does not contradict freedom is self-restraint, which is the very thing that freedom undermines when it flourishes. This the heart of the problem of freedom is the problem of the heart, because free societies are characterized by restlessness at their core.

“…such are human passions and the political restlessness they create that the self-renunciation essential to self-restraint needed for sustaining freedom is quite unnatural.”   Os Guinness, A Free People’s Suicide, InterVarsity Press, 2012)

     YOUTH—

After talking with a lady about her daughter who walked away from a drug rehab facility, I was agonizing over how many teens and young adults are into drugs, practicing non-traditional sexual habits and choices and moving toward Socialism and Marxism. The center is not holding, nihilism is the philosophical environment. Fear, anxiety and doubt about the future is thicker than southern Louisiana humidity. Shelby Steel writes some ideas that resonate:

“Fidelity to a discipline of principles—rather than to notions of social or public “good”—is the unending struggle of democracies. And the legitimacy of democratic governments and institutions depends on the quality of this struggle.” (Shelby Steel, White Guilt, (Harper Perennial, ©2006) Page 11.

“In democracies, true moral authority is always man’s responsibility rather than God’s, and it can only be earned through fidelity to principle.”

After seven years in the pastorate, I went back to school. I wisely chose the middle and late 60s to put myself in university academics and discussions. I sensed, maybe discerned, the spirits that were invading. I have questioned what happened in the middle and late 60s that affects each generation since. Shelby Steel says some things that offer an answer:

“One purpose of youthful rebellion is to put one’s self at odds with adult authority not so much to defeat it as to be defeated by it. One opposes it to discover its logic and validity for one’s self. And by failing to defeat it, one comes to it, and to greater maturity, through experience rather than mere received wisdom. Of course, every new generation alters the adult authority that it ultimately joins. But if the young win their rebellion against the old, their rite of passage to maturity is cut short and they are falsely inflated rather than humbled. Uninitiated, they devalue history rather than find direction in it, and feel entitled to break sharply and even recklessly from the past.”  (Page 86)

It is the next paragraph that raised my eyebrows and understanding:

“The sixties generation of youth is very likely the first generation in American history to have actually won its adolescent rebellion against its elders.”

That rebellion occurred during the days when adult moral authority was declining and adults were not as certain as they were. Steel says the youth was “served up a rich menu of social and moral ‘contradictions’ and ‘hypocrisies’ to hammer away at the moral authority of adult American society.” Vietnam, women’s rights, racial issues, role of minorities all fueled the sexual revolution and “…over time, it expanded the vacuum of moral authority.”

Western civilization has not recovered that moral authority. Our institutions were invaded by dark spirits (figuratively and literally) and each generation has been affected. (At least that is how I’m reading history and interpreters.)

Speaking for Baby Boomers Shelby Steel says,

“So, just as all the very normal tensions of youth roiled and built into something like a will—the adolescent will to individuate—we met an adult world so stripped of moral authority that it could not do the timeless work of adults, which is to say, ‘Here, and no further.’” (Page 86)

Disturbingly profound insight. And, perhaps, a revelation. The prophet Malachi may be speaking to 2020 when he speaks and quotes God:

“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:5—last verse of the Old Testament).

Is that our call to reestablish moral authority? I’m wondering if that is part of the “turn from wicked ways” of God’s promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14. Only God can restore moral authority, but He cannot–cannot do it theoretically. Humans are required!

A major global ministry is restructuring itself to invest in and accommodate the youth during the expected Third Great American Awaking. The new structure sounds like the Elijah movement that is promised before “that great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

An odd experience for me: I asked the Lord how we should be praying for the enemies of the State and what we should be doing. Instantly, a thought came: “Let both (wheat and weeds) grow together until the harvest” (Matthew 13:30). With precision timing, a second thought (voice?) said, “Which works if someone is planting and attending to the wheat.”

If you read the Preamble, Declaration and Bill of Rights, you will come away saying, “That’s where I want to live! That is revolutionary!” It is not the foundation of our founding that is weak, it is that the foundation has been neglected. Freedom must be won, it must be maintained and it must be defended. Who is teaching kids the promises, rights and responsibilities of the Preamble, Declaration and Constitution? What those documents say is under attack 24/7. Where are they being taught to adults? Where is the “wheat” being planted and attended? Place the ingredients of American Experiment side by side with other options and the options are pale and undesirable.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident….” Not anymore.

“…the spirit of liberty and the habits of the heart must be reinvigorated from generation to generation” (Guinness).

Thanks for considering.

©2020 D. Dean Benton—Writer & Wonderer & Wheat-Tender.

Living Your Glory

One of our South Carolina friends reminded us that August 3-8 is Hummingbird Week in Mecklinburg County, N.C.  So that’s where our hummingbirds are! Two or three have been around all summer, but not the whole tribe. Carole faithfully cooks for them and keeps lunch fresh.

We ran out of regular bird food. I thought all those birds came to visit because they liked us. Apparently not. We’re down to a yard full of sparrows, a bald Cardinal, a tail-less squirrel and an opossum.

In his book, The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs, Joel Salatin asks,

“Is life fundamentally biological or mechanical?”

We better get that answer right!

“Let’s look at the word glory as it pertains to specialness, whether the thing is living or non-living. When we say ‘the glory of God,’ what does that mean? Moses want to see God’s glory. When God’s glory left Israel, what did that mean?

Glory means the distinctiveness of something, the specificity and uniqueness. That’s the common thread throughout all the (biblical) uses of “glory.”

  “…if the chief end of man is to show forth God’s glory, then our lives should honor God…. Notice how many times the Scripture uses the word glory for things other than God, showing a deep respect and honor for the uniqueness of created beings—and things. The point is that the sum and substance of our lives should point toward the Godness of God. And He wants us to understand that how we extend that respect and honor to his creation indicates our level of honoring His specialness.” (Page 19)

Maybe I better drop this caveat in here:

“To the greater Christian community, however, a phrase like pigness of pigs conjures up notions of animal worship and environmental flakes. It’s the kind of statement you’d expect from vegans and animal rights whackos. But I would argue that our view toward animals is a direct manifestation of our view toward each other and to God” (Salatin—page 25).

The bald-headed Cardinal has been around this whole season. At first, I thought it was molting, but if so, the top feathers forgot to grow in new. Somewhere, someone said a Cardinals head feathers are its crowning glory. It’s hard to tell if that bird feels like it has lost its glory. That squirrel climbs trees and has learned how to balance without a tail. I’m unable to speak about his/her self-esteem.

“You’re my glory, Lord, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3). God has deposited His glory in us—the image of uniqueness and distinction.

The story of Temple Grandin. Ph.D. alerted me to seeing “glory” in each living thing and respecting that uniqueness even in slaughtering. Salatin says, “This is not about making animals into people.”

“And God said, LET US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God….” Genesis 1:26-27

I think that image is seen in humans as uniqueness, specialness, distinctiveness. Since God is not physical, we can’t say that we got “God’s nose.” Amy Grant sings that she “Got my Father’s Eyes,” and that may be close to truth. Scripture says of God–He will not share His glory. Another use of glory, but He can’t and He doesn’t want want you to either.  Or to trade for pot of stew.

When God is dismissed as absent, a myth or incapable also dismisses all He stands for and for all authority. That dilutes the value of persons and the result is burning of Bibles, the mass abortion of babies and disregard for personal and physical rights. There are consequences when a nation abandons Yahweh. As said of Israel and several tribes in the Old Testament, they lost their glory.

The current philosophical battles—2020 Chaos—is a battle about and the results of answering Joel Salatin’s first question: Is life fundamentally biological or mechanical? The street battles and fighting the pandemic is about biological vs. mechanical. He says,

“Viewing life as mechanical, like industrial farming does, cheapens it, which in turn cheapens death. Is it any wonder that our culture is wrestling with increased violence among humans through…and a cheap food policy, which is actually a cheap life policy?”

“Price is definitely not the number one criterion: glory—does this food honor life’s distinctiveness?—is the number one criterion. After that’s been met, then be frugal.” (Page 28)

Seeing uniqueness, specialness, distinctiveness in each living thing and certainly in each person changes things. Seeing the value of each as an individual instead of value only in the “collective,” demands they be treated with respect. Uniqueness or distinctiveness are never a reason or excuse for misbehavior or lawlessness. The presence of glory in us raises the need for redemption. It is for the uniqueness of nations that Jesus said and says, “…go and make disciples of nations…” (Matthew 28).

Oh, the glory of Your presence!

There is a growing community of people trying to eat “right”. This pandemic is pushing more and more into home schooling, gardening and acreage farming. I hope the Green Deal extreme hollering, extortion, hyperbole and turning America into something other than what is her glory, will stimulate us to calculate our stewardship of this land.  Soil & Immunity.

We heard David Sinclair, Ph.D—author and longevity researcher at Harvard say, “I prefer death to an inconsequential life.” Some read the lines “…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as “life, liberty and pursuit of significance.” Seems to me, that need for consequence or significance is the indwelling glory being awakened. That is not possible in the mechanistic life. It is part of what Jesus alluded to when He said, “abundant.”

You will benefit by reading, considering and discussing The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs, Joel Salatin, (Faith Words-Hachette Book Group, 2016).

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Good Soil=30, 60, 100 Return–2

Grow Soil & Build Immunity

I’ve encouraged people to invest in land because “they are not making any more of it.” Rory Feek’s interview with Joel Salatin is captivating. Joel Salatin grows soil. He is making more of it.

Hours after watching the interview it occurred to me Salatin’s words may be a revelation of spiritual importance. There seem to be Kingdom principles here. Foundational atmospheric, universal truth. Kingdom principles and laws not because they make church better or help us not to sin, but because there is life and life-giving ingredients that counteract wickedness—that which breaks people and things into pieces. Good soil grows, not breaks.

In what kind of soil do people grow? How is social soil grown? What soil produces the happiest people? What was Jesus talking about when he said, “Good soil”? The questions are many. We have come full circle from the story of “Salting the fields.” How do we repair the soil that has been “salted” by sin? Infused with corruption? We can throw money and energy at fixing our institutions and individuals, but unless the “soil” is rebuilt, those broken institutions will only replicate themselves.

Institutions are only means to desired ends. They are tools to produce and develop certain kinds of people. As always, the initial and ultimate question is—what kind of people are we trying to produce? What is the molecular structure and hard infrastructure of the soil that helps produce that person?

I invite you to view and contemplate the resources below. What principles and laws do you see? What will develop people who will produce 30, 60, 100 fold return?

I heard a prophecy today that pushed me. “…people who will rebuild the ancient landmarks the Founders set.” Isaiah 58 comes to mind and Psalm 25:6

Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, GOD; rebuild the ancient landmarks.

Rebuild the ancient landmarks!

This nation’s soil has been depleted, worn, weary. It needs to be restored to feed the spirits and dreams of all. The prophecy heard, Carole asked what the ancient landmarks of America would be. The Founders wrote them down in The Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers and in the Constitution. And we get to restore them. We can place them once again in the soil of America.

We have walked the hills of Gettysburg and felt the life of that soil. Abraham Lincoln finished that astonishing short speech with these words…

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

We can declare into the atmosphere—the spiritual realm that manifests in the material—the landmarks that built this nation. We can say each active line out loud—by faith, declaring it to be a reality renewed. We can pray to Almighty God to loose these truths and energies into the citizens and three branches of government. Day by day. We will replenish the “soil” one landmark per day. If we say each “self-evident” truth out loud, we will be directed who to pray for generally and in specifics always with images of “the people.” We will learn how.

 Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that…

Day 1        All men (people) are created equal,

Day 2        That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,

Day 3        That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—

Day 4        That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among (people),

Day 5        Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —

Preamble to

The Constitution of the United States of America:

We the People of the United States, in Order to…

Day 6        Form a more perfect Union,

Day 7        Establish Justice,

Day 8        Insure domestic Tranquility,

Day 9        Provide for the common defense,

Day 10     Promote the general Welfare,

Day 11    Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

My practice is to verbalize the landmark. On day 7, I say “in order to establish justice…” I pray concerning the experiences of injustice to be changed and healed. I ask for forgiveness of my thoughts or actions that were unjust or reinforced an unjust culture. (I’m not taking responsibility for what I did not do.) I ask God to instill in each of us His idea and plan for justice. I ask Holy Spirit to bring to mind anyone I know who has suffered injustice and simply say their name to Jesus. Perhaps He will guide me to say more about that person.

Replenish, Restore, Rejuvenate the soil and Reignite the soul of America

Copyright 2020 D. Dean Benton–writer & wonderer

Email—dean@deanbenton.org

Website—https://deanbenton.org/     Benton Books, Blogs, Blurbs

Dean’s ebooks— https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DDeanBenton

Dean’s blogs—https://bentonquesthouse.com/

Good Soil=30, 60, 100 Return-1

“Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold (Mark 4:8).

A waitress in Louisiana asked me where I was from—she could tell I was “not from around here”—I told her, Iowa. I thought she was going to cry as she said, “It has the blackest dirt. When I saw it, I thought it had been burned.”

I learned this weekend that there is a difference between dirt and soil. Dirt is what we sweep up from the corners of the garage or vacuum in the living room. Soil is alive! Under our feet in the field is an unseen community of interacting creatures like earthworms, and inanimate commodities like water and air. The healthier the soil, the better the quality of production whether flowers, radishes, grass or cows.

Joel Salatin is a farmer in Virginia who grows soil, moves his cattle herd every day and uses chickens and pigs to work a huge compost pit and nourish and preserve pastures. He grows soil! Growing soil grabbed my attention and imagination. After watching and contemplating the Montana Music Ranch based interview (Joel Salatin & Rory Feek), I was gripped by two phrases:

Good Soil & Immune System

We are stewards of both and benefit by paying attention to both.

RESOURCES:

The first link is for the interview. The second is a Washington Post article about Joel Salatin.  Mr. Salatin is featured in the Food. Inc movie/documentary.

Joel Salatin—Rory Feek  interview       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfB2bC1zkc8

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/voraciously/wp/2020/03/26/famous-farmer-and-activist-joel-salatin-gets-blowback-for-declaring-i-want-coronavirus/

Food, Inc. Documentary–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXIkrYbqRO0

© 2020 D. Dean Benton    writer & wonderer

See the blog that follows: Good Soil = 30, 60, 100 Increase-2.

Message Fires Cannot Destroy

To celebrate Independence Day—the 4th of July, I have been reading 1776 by David McCullough again. That there was victory in the War of Independence is a God-thing. I’m also reading Andrew Jackson and The Miracle of New Orleans by Brian Kilmeade. America faced the British army outmanned 10:1. America didn’t have a much better army 30 years after the Revolution.

A story from the attack on Washington and the burning of the White House: It was led by British general Robert Ross and Sir George Cockburn.

“When the British arrived (at the president’s house), they found Mr. & Mrs. Madison’s dinner table still set, the aroma of cooking food still wafting from the recently abandoned kitchen. They drank the president’s wine and ate a generous meal before building bonfires in the rooms and retreating to the street to watch the mansion burn. …by morning it was a roofless, smoking ruin, and the light gray stone of the president’s house had been burned black.” (Page 66)

There are still burned black timbers in the basement from that fire. I tend to think that the revolutionaries in Lafayette park a few weeks ago (not protestors—anarchists and insurrectionists) intended to replay those scenes.

“The British made a point of sacking the offices of the Washington newspaper the National Intelligencer, building a bonfire to burn its type and presses. The Intelligencer was known for printing stories critical of Cockburn, and he was determined to teach its editor and readers a lesson. ‘Be sure all the c’s are destroyed,’ he is said to have told his men, ‘so that they can’t abuse my name anymore.’”

The authors say,

“In the end, it wasn’t the brave efforts of the American people that put out the fires or stopped the destruction. Only the arrival with miraculous timing, of a powerful storm prevented more of the city from being damaged by the flames. Rain poured down and strong winds blew, lifting British cannons off the ground, according to some reports. Others claimed that the storm formed a tornado, a rare phenomenon in Washington. Whatever the cause, the British were discouraged and the fires quenched thanks not to the work of men, but to an act of God.”  (68)

              God has not gone into retirement! He is not in a gated community for the infirm.

Carole and I watched the message linked below this evening. I have known about the preacher, Dutch Sheets, for a long time, but haven’t been a follower of his ministry. He seems to live in a different dimension than I do. His theology is not foreign to me. I would probably agree with most of what he says. I have not read his books, but some of my friends know his ministry well. I hardly took a breath during this message. He told stories that grabbed my heart and moved my spirit. I have checked out some of the stories and they have a historical base. One of which is about George Washington’s “Appeal to Heaven” flag. The first link below is a printed version of that story. The 2nd link is the entire message.

I forward this message and stories for your encouragement and reminder we serve an Everlasting God.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/48051-dutch-sheets-tells-story-behind-the-appeal-to-heaven-flag

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRlWju_Bhr8

Voices in my head today

A few days ago, I became uneasy with my clever, “Hunker Inn.” We need to stop hunkering down and hiding. Today international evangelist Mario Murillo said in his blog,

Quit wasting time staring at the door that has closed. God is opening a better one. God is not done with you—or with America.

It was said of England after World War I that the nation had lost an entire generation of leaders in the war. I wonder if history will say that about Western Civilization post 2020. Are we sacrificing the potential of students on the altar of PC and the call to put on a mask, isolate oneself, stay away from school and work—just hunker down!

A lady said, “We are living with the constant threat of the next catastrophe, disaster, unemployment and revolution.”  We cannot live defensively and at the same time, live abundantly. Ivanka Trump suggested if a person(s) is laid off or unemployed they should “try something different.” That of course—along with her plugging Goya—attracted critics. She said one of my favorite clichés differently—

“If you are riding a dead horse, for your own best interest dismount!”

Fear and anxiety that drives us into the bunker is destructive.  to a nation, our mental health and willingness to fight for and live out spiritual, emotional and citizen rights. Speaking of bunkers, I’m wondering when we must view the current attacks on government, civilization and Constitutional Rights and responsibilities as the English did in the World War II bombings. We do need strong leadership—as Churchill provided.

Victor Davis Hanson said recently,

“The swing voters, independents, and purple-staters are framing their 2020 choice in the stark terms of who will “make it all go away.” They want a magical end to the virus, the quarantines, the violence, the hate, and the division. And at this point, they want near-divine interventions to do all that and more.” (https://amgreatness.com/2020/07/12/trump-needs-to-scale-the-real-wall-of-2020/)

Nothing I recall is closer to the biblical portrait of the days before Anti-Christ appears. Someone who will make it all go away—near-divine interventions. No one is going to rescue us from COVID-19 or insurrection, revolution or personal craziness. “Take care of yourself,” has become my urgent benediction. “May the Lord bless you and keep you,” and don’t neglect to exercise, eat carefully, take time to think, breathe, relax and sit in your favorite place talking to Jesus.

My concern is that we are being lulled into passivity or surrender and compliance. Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians:

“I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about Him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, and about the Messiah” (Philippians 1:14-15).

David and Karen Mains hosted radio’s Chapel of the Air. The Chapel went on the air in 1939 with David’s uncle John D. Jess as teacher and host until the middle-late 70s. In the early 1980s. David interviewed Dr. Francis Schaeffer. I don’t know of any thinking and searching evangelical who was not impacted by the thinkers Francis and Edith Schaeffer. That interview was rebroadcast recently. I listened to it this morning. It speaks to 2020.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/interview-with-francis-schaeffer-before-we-go-podcast-45/id1483224036?i=1000477553959 

I have heard dozens of conspiracy theories and as many prophecies. I don’t know which ones are fabrications, which are from God and how we are to fit into His plans. I do know this is not the time to hunker down or hunker in.  I do know the commission is still, “Go, disciple nations.” That may mean “go out of your hunkering place and get on with the discipling.”

Praying and seeking to live America’s Vision, Mission, Brand.

Copyright 2020 D. Dean Benton