Category Archives: motivational

Want Fries with your Hemlock Sandwich?

Trying to take seriously the 4-principle test for communication: True? Kind? Necessary? Clear? Something in the Ethernet world grinds on me about the “Sandwich” Test. I’ll try—true, kind, necessary, clear.

A young Australian wife/mother asked her closed Facebook network (26,000) what they put in their husbands brown bag lunch. She was charged with—“Making a sandwich for your husband is a crime against feminism” and setting feminism back several decades. She was labeled as “a slave and a 1950s housewife.” The daughter of a professional feminist (article author’s phrase) said and published upon finding she was pregnant with a boy: “I felt sick at the thought of something male growing inside of me.”

The spirit of the replies is captured by this: “I was married for 20 years and my favourite packed lunch for my husband was called ‘Get it yourself’ with a side order of ‘I’m not your mother.’”

I can’t quite get a handle on what has been set loose in me by this. Let me be straight with you. I never ask my wife to make me a sandwich. The truth is I love it when she does because she makes a much better sandwich that I do. She adds garnish and care. It is not about bread and baloney; it expresses appreciation and concern for my well-being. My step-mother won my heart with the care she put into peanut butter sandwiches she made for me. Carole’s sandwiches just taste better. Her observation may say it all: “Obviously, these women have not yet met a man for whom she wants to offer the best….”

If feminism rests on the legal scales of a sandwich, the sandwich is a non-issue. It is about hatred for men and the desire that men be erased from the earth. If this defines feminism, then burn your membership card. It marginalizes feminism and makes it an example of worst stereotype.

There is a slice of meanness in me that wants to declare, If wife or any female would say the nasty things about me and sandwiches, I would pack my jar of Skippy peanut butter and sourdough bread in my briefcase and leave the building.

Andy Stanley preached this weekend about “Women submit…husbands love…” from Ephesians 5. Both admonishments were as subversive and counter-culture as anything in the First Century world. Stanley says we are challenged to “Rush to the back of the line.” Not everyone is required to seek to serve each other, just followers of Jesus and those who desire to maintain a great marriage.

While studying Abraham and his women—Sarah and Hagar—I have understood why Sarah might say, “Fix your own falafel” There are boorish men who earn the kind of contempt that the women above might revert to. What I’m reading in this 21st Century Sandwich hostility is contempt and hatred for all males. That does not end well historically for anyone—for individuals, cultures and nations.

Please allow me: Guys, if you want female fingerprints on your sandwich, go to the pantry several times over the next fifteen minutes. Look around—360—up and down and make a low moan/whimper, then leave the pantry with a loud sign. A loving wife will become concerned and will say, “Can I make you a sandwich?” If that doesn’t work, go to Arby’s.

©2017 D. Dean Benton Dean@Deanbenton.org

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Today’s Underlinings

“In our world, women took care of everything, especially each other, and the art of making each other look good was something that gave us great joy and satisfaction. Lesson one of adulthood was putting the needs or even just the wishes of others before you own and then taking pleasure in making them come to pass.”

Lowcountry Summer, Dorothea Benton Frank, (Wm Morrow, 2010)

That is a pretty good definition of love.

Dean dean@deanbenton.org

Hard to Imagine

In my prep to rewrite Meanderings, I am focusing on how God speaks and how to hear Him and conclude that He is speaking to you. The center of the book is the Abraham and family story which is central to three religions: Judaism, Islam, Christianity.
Genesis 15 finds Abram after he has rescued Lot. Lot leaves his uncle and Abram’s fighting party of 318 go home to their tents in Hebron leaving Abram alone. God has not told Abram his own name. He shows up at Abram’s tent to reassure His follower. It is an extraordinary story. Abram asks God questions. God responds:

“God took Abram outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you able…” (Genesis 15:5).

Can you imagine being in conversation (prayer) with God and he takes you by the elbow or puts his hand on your shoulder and says, “Let’s go outside. I have something to show you.” You had asked for an answer or guidance and God says, “I’ll explain and I’ll show you.”

“When God told Abram that his descendants would be as infinite as the stars, He had to be sure that His prophet could truly comprehend infinitude without being paralyzed and that he could retain his sense of self without indulging in grandiosity.” (Charlotte Gordon)

Okay, my artist friends. Draw a picture from the open tent flap of God with his right hand on Abram’s shoulder and pointing to the stars with an open left hand sweeping the sky from right to left.
God never interacted with Adam or Noah with such intimacy. And it had taken the relationship of Himself with Abram to grow to this level. Charlotte Gordon in a gripping book called, “The Woman Who Named God” (Little, Brown, ©2009) explains why He decides to be so open with Abram.

“…possible that God had learned something from His experience with these two earlier partners in creation. He had not allowed them to be invested enough in the future. He had not shown them enough of His plan for the world. Now He chose to give Abram an inkling of what He Himself saw.”

That is breathtaking. Does it not also help you to be more open to His voice if you believe He is inviting you to participate with Him?

Want to guess how many Father’s Day cards Abraham would receive?

Invested in the future.

©2017 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org
Wonderer

Our Generation

A dear friend, who edited my early books, missionary, teacher, office manager, magazine editor, secretary to a denominational head, went to be the Lord on Good Friday. We have not had any communication for about three years when Alzheimer’s set in.

She married for the first time after she retired. We visited the couple in Florida and listened to their stories of mission work. Marion baked bread to sell to raise money for mission projects in her Florida condo. She and Ernie shared their lives and asked about our work and lives.
Miss Marion was of a different generation. I’ve always wondered how we moved into the relationship. She used her blue or red editor’s pencils with abandonment. She was more liberal with verbal affirmations. When too many weeks passed without a note from us, she would call to ask about us.
I have been surprised and confused by my reaction to her death. I’ve tried to name the deeper reasons. I’m glad she is free from her illness. She’s home with Jesus and family. I, however, feel as if I have lost something more than precious—it feels as if I have lost a supporting pillar: Someone who believed in me when she had to cast a minority vote. A disconnect with a former life.
One of her friends said she was like King David who…

“When David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried…” (Acts 13:36a).

That may be the finest of all epitaphs.

In the 80a—90s, Youth evangelist Ron Hutchcraft said the Millennials would be characterized by four things. One was that suicide was an option. Today in America, suicide is the second cause of death among young men of that generation. In England, it is the number one cause and surpasses the next three causes combine.

Matthew West captured us with his song, “My Name Is.” His book by the same name was released yesterday. He and Max Lucado talked about the subject matter and emphatically stated a basic issue among us is that many do not know “who we are.”

“Served his/her own generation.”

I have young friends who have responded to the call to minister to evangelism on college campus and other ethnic and geographical peoples. I do not think I have ever heard an altar call given to minister to the Millennials who do not know who they are or what their calling is. Lost. Vulnerable. Angst. See no purpose. It is a large constituency.

Who has the passion? Where is the ignition point for the belly fire? Who is doing that ministry, today? It demands a special call and education.
A generation in secular terms is defined by historical/social events that shape the youth who live in the era. A biblical generation is 40-years. A ministry generation are the people alive in your “neighborhood” during your lifetime. We found Carole’s mother served her generation. We were not aware that her “generation” covered a wide age spectrum.

“I’m Possible!”

Can we talk?
Copyright 2017 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Ran across two podcasts that speaks to this crucial work: “and Sons.com” and “Dan Allender Center”

Check Your Dream

Bishop Joseph Garlington grew up in a preacher’s home. From a very young age, he wanted to be a preacher. He responded to that call. He has pastored the same church in Pittsburgh for many years, he is a musician—some of his songs are in the Contemporary Christian catalogue.

A TV interviewer asked him: “Did you have dreams when you were a boy?”

The Bishop responded:

“Sometimes, you have to see someone doing what you’ve been called to do to recognize that God has called you to do it—what I am supposed to do.”

The late C. Peter Wagner taught widely about Spiritual gifts. One of his instructions was to “practice—test” I was not comfortable with that until I realized he was counseling us to get around people who are doing what we suspect we are called to do and see how it resonates with our spirit.

Bishop Garlington heard a five-year-old preach and that affirmed what Garlington had wondered. Garlington was fortunate that his father affirmed and encouraged his search and questioned his thinking and decisions.

A four year old was in one of our concert-preaching events. She said, “Let me go up there with them—I can do that…I want to do that.” She will enroll this fall in college with a music major.

Put yourself in the atmosphere and environment where the work you sense you are called to is being done. What do you experience? Love it? Feel as if God has given you a more effective way to do? Repulsed by a shabby approach? How about signing on as support staff?

Questioning your vision? Dream(s)? Test. Practice.

 

©2017 D. Dean Benton

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

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/

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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