Category Archives: Inspirational

A Voice for Us

“He sensed that mighty changes were on the horizon in America and that time was running out. He had to finish his work, raise up the leaders, and fulfill his duty to his beloved America.”   Speaking of George Whitefield 1745

Since the age of 3-4, I have been fascinated by preachers who have vision for the masses. George Whitefield, one of the first Methodists and friend of the Wesleys has been at the top of that list. He invented mass evangelism. When in his early twenties, he preached to 80,000 people in England’s Hyde Park. Not only was his voice capable (as proven by his friend Benjamin Franklin), he spoke with such power it was said that actors would weep when he said the word “Mesopotamia.”

Writer Stephen Mansfield calls Whitefield America’s “Forgotten Founding Father.”

“Had Whitefield never gone to America, the great revival there might never have happened. And, had there been no great revival, there may well have been no American Revolution.”

This preacher was different. He began every sermon with a joke and told stories. Pulpits were closed to him, so he went to where the people were. He preached in open fields and went to the mines when miners were getting off work and early mornings when they were headed for work. One of my favorite images is from his preaching to miners in Kingswood, England.

“Hundreds had gathered with their coal-blackened faces peering back quizzically at the young preacher. He continued not knowing what to make of their silence. Then he noticed something. There were white streaks appearing on the faces…the miners were weeping. Repentance followed and soon laughing and singing.”   (Forgotten Founding Father, Stephen Mansfield, (c)2001, Highland Books, page 77)

When Whitefield arrived in the colonies, there was nothing to unify then into anything that could be called “United.” That changed. The unifier was his preaching. From Georgia to New England almost every resident heard Whitefield preach.

“Whitefield was the ‘first inter-colonial event.’ For the first time, the American colonists had a common experience that gave them a sense of corporate life they had never had before.” (Mansfield page 110)

His method was “preach and return.” He would preach and plant the gospel. He gave no altar call. He left that locale and after giving the “seed” time to germinate he would return to preach again and to invite people into the Kingdom. Those who responded were placed in small groups or communities for Christian growth. That was not just for Bible study, but for fellowship. They would share their own growth and see others being transformed by Jesus. The populace had followed England into debauchery and drunkenness. The fellowship groups gave the converts an alternative to gin houses on Friday nights.

The second piece of the plan was to share his vision for good work. He told stories of those very people feeding the poor, building schools and caring for orphans. There was deployment into significant ministries.

“He did this because he wanted more than just revival: he wanted a spiritual revolution, a transformation of society by the power and truth of God’s kingdom.”

I see parallels of the days leading to the American Revolution and the days following with our own. That makes these days quite open to revival and awakening that will heal and transform. If some visionary can see what is attempting to manifest—I like what Mansfield says:

“Already a man on a mission, now (Whitefield) had a method to match his call.” The evangelist said, “Field preaching is my plan….”

So, we pray for the right person to hear from heaven and discover 21st Century field preaching.

Before Whitefield’s first tour of America, he was not sure whether he should stay in England and attend to the monstrous crowds and nurture of converts or go to the new country. While wrestling with his life purpose, a letter came from John Wesley who was already in Georgia. Wesley spoke of great opportunities for the gospel and the “harvest that awaited the bold and the willing.” Wesley closed his letter with the challenge, “What if thou art the man, Mr. Whitefield?”

I cannot hear the daily news and the images of a culture on the verge of destruction without being prodded by Wesley’s question: “What if thou art the man?” The question is not about preaching to 80,000 or millions, but where I (you) fit in the promises of 2 Chronicles 7:14.

WHAT IF YOU ARE THE PERSON?

©2016 D. Dean Benton       Benton Books & Blogs       Bentonministries.com

Channels deep enough to…

Andy Andrews lives near Fairhope, Alabama which is on the Gulf off toward Mobile. He was talking in the current podcast about a bookstore called Page & Palet http://www.pageandpalette.com in Fairhope. He described it as one of the 5 or 6 most important bookstores in the country. He says: spend 2-3 hours in that store and you will likely run into one or more major author. Then Andy said that lots of authors are moving to the Fairhope area.

If you want to know where photographers go to breathe pure photography air, that would be in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area. Just as painters and writers gathered in Paris in decades past.

It is easy to figure out why so many country and gospel musicians migrate to Nashville and why writers and creatives have found Franklin, Tennessee a good place for home. That is partly because Nashville is where records are made, music is written and business is done. That is where Tootsie’s is and where agents hang out looking for the next big star. But Taos and Santa Fe is about creativity.

Our son has wanted to go to New Mexico to breathe that 21st Century tin-type oxygen. It is like a working pilgrimage to the spout where the creativity blessing comes out.

One of our friends believes our town of declining 35,000 souls was founded and set aside by either God or something to be Hollywood East—the place where movies are made and creatives gather. He has a Native American soul—I think. He thinks that until the city becomes a certain population, that creative “magic” is locked up, held in check.

Karl Rove said this morning it would be fun to watch a Trump—New Gingrich ticket since Gingrich has an idea a minute. That is not a new description of Newt. Where did he learn that or where did he go/where does he go to “breathe the creative air?”

I am tempted to take a quick drive to Fairhope, Alabama to visit my nephew’s family (better check if they are in before I fuel up) and go breath the air at Page & Palet. I know exactly what the air is like and I know it is magic. But even stronger is a desire to establish an enclave close by where people will visit to interact, sit together with great coffee and exchange wonderful, crazy and wise ideas. A place where I will benefit from whatever is in the water and air that stimulates and enriches.

I’m reading Lincoln’s Battle with God by Stephen Mansfield. (2012). Lincoln found New Salem, Illinois. Some historians say New Salem was his alma mater. He came of that experience with the ability to process his dreams and hone his thinking. One of the chamber of commerce statements is that New Salem was settled on the Sangamon River with channels deep enough to….

I’m wondering what it would take to build that kind of enclave on the banks of the Mississippi.

©2016 D. Dean Benton—Writer & Wonderer—bentonministris.com

Never Changes His Mind

One of my junior high friends is not just in trouble today, he is feeling troubled. My book, Turn Back the Tirade is a few days from publication. I not only want him to read this ebook, I want him to “get it.” What he is feeling today is legitimate. How he is dealing with the feelings may not be.

There are Three Big Ones that cause anger and hostility:

  1. Frustration
  2. Disappointment
  3. Rejection

No wonder my young friend is upset! What happened to him triggered all three.

Dr. Brené Brown reminds us that power is the ability to effect change. The three “Big Ones” are frontal attacks on our belief that we can change anything. When we—regardless of age or social status, wealth or how sexy we are—are questioning our worth or value, are frustrated, disappointed or rejected, we are going to feel disempowered. That is debilitating and scary.

Dr. Brown says we are caught in a cultural lie that life is all supposed to be fun, fast and easy. She says the current cultural assumption that things should be fun, fast, easy, leads to…

“…the combination of fear of disappointment, entitlement, and performance pressure (which) is a recipe for hopelessness and self-doubt.” (Brown) That describes lack of power—inability to effect change.

Write this on the first page of your journal: My worth is God’s gift to me. It is my birthright. Nothing that will happen to me changes that. My self-esteem may waver—that is what I feel about myself—but my self-worth is the way God feels about me. He never changes His mind!

I would trade a couple of graduate classes for one grade school class that taught me that disappointment, frustration and rejection are part of life. Therefore, I need to learn how to effectively deal with them. Angering at other people and disliking myself doesn’t help. Why doesn’t someone say, “Here, let me show you how to do that right!”

Vicki Yohe is a singer and a missioner. She was on one of my favorite programs to sing one of my favorite songs. The host interviewed her about her mission to Uganda where she has planted an orphanage. She says we have done it wrong. While we have been feeding and clothing, we should be empowering.

Empowering is connected to hope.

Dr. Brené Brown says, “I always thought of hope as an emotion—like a warm feeling of optimism and possibility. I was wrong. …hope is not an emotion; it’s a way of thinking or a cognitive process.”

Hope happens when we learn to think, say and act out…

    • I know where I want to go, what I want to be: I have purpose, desire, goal, direction.
    • I know how to get there. I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again.
    • I can do this!

Put another way, hope and empowerment describe…

  • Tolerance for disappointment. (Of course I’m disappointed, but it will not kill me or change God’s opinion.)
  • Determination. (I’ll persist and work hard. What happens to me today makes my life temporarily more difficult, but it doesn’t change who I am—God settled that!)
  • Belief in self. (This hurts and this is tough, but I can do it. I can do it!)

Branding that on your soul is not fun, fast or easy. We are not entitled to special treatment. It is your choice to do the hard, persistent, determined work.

Dr. Brown’s words are challenging and invigorating:

“I always thought of hope as an emotion—like a warm feeling of optimism and possibility. I was wrong. …hope is not an emotion; it’s a way of thinking or a cognitive process.”

“I think it is so empowering to know that I have the ability to teach my children how to hope. It’s not a crapshoot.” The Gifts of Imperfection, (Hazelden ©2010) page 65

©2015 D. Dean Benton  

Ebooks from Dean that you will find helpful. smashwords.com/profile/view/DDeanBenton/
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  • Turn Back the Tirade—Anger management and personal empowerment
  • HopePushers—with intent to deliver—What hope is, how to get it, how to maintain it, how to dispense it.
  • Caught in the Tail Lights—Dealing with parental divorce, abandonment, rejection, purposelessness.
  • Good Vibes

    The thought is outrageous. Craig McConnell, associate of John Eldredge, was on the Ransomed Heart podcast talking about “What brings you life?” He was asked how he finds the answer. The first way, he suggests, is to ask God—this is so outrageous—ask God what He created you to do with Him. What does God want you to do so He (God) can enjoy doing it with you?

    Going to the coffee shop could be God’s idea to bring me “life”? I seldom go to a coffee shop to drink the coffee. I have a full drawer with a dozen coffee flavors and Carole keeps bringing home bargain coffee that through some miracle she will like. No, darlin’ that is the way coffee tastes and only through my bartending skills, I produce an interesting coffee flavor—on a good day.

    I go to coffee shops or bagel stores to experience God as I pray, sort out His plans or in an effort to hear from Him. I don’t always get it straight—but Jesus seems to show up in certain places—and for me it is a coffee shop or specific parking lots or on the river front. Recently, I’ve been drawn to a gravel road overlooking a flood plain.

    “When the ‘constellation’ of vibrating energies between two people move toward one another—in all their juxtapositions and oppositions—and those vibrations are in sympathy with each other, we say two people are ‘on the same wavelength,’ or they ‘make beautiful music together’ or ‘give off good vibes.’ (Leonard Sweet A Cup of Coffee At The Soulcafe,  B&H Publishers, 1998)

    Some go for a run. Some work with clay. God apparently likes to ride Harley bikes with some of my friends. What does God want you to do today that He can enjoy doing it with you?

    Lord, what do you want to do with me today? What can we do together that will cause the vibes between us become sympathetic?

    ©2014 D. Dean Benton http://www.bentonministries.com/

    Follow on Facebook—Dean Benton and Benton Quest House.

    Branch Office

    Our son was with us for a couple of days and I benefited big time. He brings value to me with his vocational expertise, his knowledge of the Bible, his shared personal journey and coaching questions. He is a charter member of our personal tribe.

    We are upgrading a couple areas of ministries. He served as a coach asking questions that made me clarify my thinking. Synergy happened. His ideas and mine collaborated and produced new thinking that would not have happened without his input. Perhaps these ideas will produce products that will enrich the wider population.
    GIFTS
    Whether I talk about natural talents or Spiritual gifts, unused gifts do not just atrophy, they abscess. I like that phrase, but it has serious consequences. If we love to do something, feel called to do certain things, love to see the results of our gifted work, but do not use those gifts, the vacuum will birth depression, anxiety and boredom.

    Blended singing voices are food for my soul. The blending of specific voices produce a sound that enriches me and I get lonesome for that sound entity as if it were a person. A singer I admire, but do not personally know appears to be in distress. I committed to pray for him. I can’t sing with him, but I am feeling some responsibility for the survival of his gift use. I’m finally not responsible for his gift any more than he is for mine, but since I sense I am to pray with him during this season, I have a measure of responsibility. All faithful churches, groups and tribes have responsibility and joy to call forth, nurture and sustain gifts.
    Unused gifts are not just something we can sell from the bargain box on eBay. God gave us gifts for a reason and we will give an accounting to Him for them. Undiscovered, undeveloped, unused gifts are especially grievous to God, if Jesus’ parables are accurate.

    “I would really like to…” is often a description of a God planted dream about your life purpose. I plead with you to take seriously the gift(s) and talents. Don’t cheat me or others out of what will help us fulfill our callings. Fulfill our lives!
    CALLING
    “For God’s sake…and yours, take your calling seriously!” I want to yell that at those whose gifts and talents are allowed to be dormant.
    Carole’s sister bought her a bird house. It is cute and small. The floor plan is four by six inches. We hung it in the tree outside the living room window. I thought it was too late in the season, but a young couple moved in almost immediately. (Lots of talk in recent months about high rent and few rental properties in our city.) They built a nest. Every time one of them carried a stick in and placed it, he or she stepped out onto the branch and announced to the neighborhood they were home and furnishing the place. Of our resident and visiting birds, those two birds—about twice the size of humming birds—have the largest voices. They are taking seriously the command to multiply and to sing.
    In contrast, our granddaughter and her dad have acquired a homing pigeon. It landed and stayed. Apparently, Hannah says, it got lost on its way home.
    Take your calling seriously and the value you add to your world. I wonder if you appreciate the value you add. Perhaps you need a branch to stand on.

    D. Dean Benton

    Benton Quest House