Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Important Life Knowledge

I’m sharing a Facebook post from a friend. It was not written with knowledge it would be shared beyond the original post. I have permission to share it. It is, indeed, a good place to start.
Dean

As we move toward a new world order, I sat down today and tried to problem solve how I’m going to manage homeschooling my kid for the next few months. It’s hard for me to imagine keeping my child occupied while still adding value to his life, without having him glued to a screen all day doing online school work. So I built a schedule that would allow me to feel confident in teaching him, balance my need for personal work time, and still keep him on track with a first grader’s pace.

WHICH GOT ME THINKING (oh god, I know, bear with me here…😂)- Why can’t I be teaching him first grade education level skills, but apply them to REAL WORLD CONCEPTS?! We don’t know what the future holds for us, and as much as I want my son to be book smart, I also want him to be culturally educated and have a broad perspective mindset.

So I made a list- “Important Life Knowledge”
Things I want to teach my son that he might not necessarily learn in school. Things that he will face when he walks out of my front door a grown man. Things that he may have to face before then.

As I looked over my list, I thought to myself- these are things I’m still learning. These are things I see people around me still learning. These are things I see grown adults not having the slightest clue about.

It inspired me to share the list with you all. Food for thought. Think about what these things mean to you. Think about if you’ve started teaching your kids these things. I’m sure I’ll be endlessly adding to the list as I start this new journey with (my son), and I’m sure many of you have lots of great ideas to add to this list as well! But I thought this was a good start.

Image may contain: coffee cup

Hunker Inn West Wing

My wife and I just think differently.

If something gets dropped on the floor, she wants it cleaned up immediately. My approach is to let dry and then get it with the vacuum.

Today she is busy cleaning the guest room and asked me to help her move the furniture. Who is she expecting? In this day of isolation and staying home, if we invite guests we’ll probably be arrested. Move the furniture? Yep! A total rearrangement. Everything in “The West Wing” except the bookcases. To my way of thinking, any virtual guest will not notice that the bed is facing a different direction and that the plants have been moved to the porch.

The most annoying is that she doesn’t measure time well. Again today she asked, “Will you help me for five minutes?” I know, even if she doesn’t, that we’ll be working on the project an hour later. Moving furniture in the West Wing cannot be done in 5 minutes!

I heard when China began to open up from Stay At Home!, the first stop for many couples was the divorce court. (I didn’t even know divorce was allowed in China.) The government clerks were unable to keep up with the crowds. These days can pull at relationship seams.

One of my go to thinkers and writers about marriage is John M. Gottman, PH.D.

“Certain kinds of negativity, if allowed to run rampant, are so lethal to a relationship that I call them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Usually these four horsemen clip-clop into the heart of a marriage in the following order: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.”

I come away from Gottman’s writing assuming the most dangerous is contempt. The other three can be fixed, but contempt is a heart issue that becomes physical.

“Couples who are contemptuous of each other are more likely to suffer from infectious illnesses (colds, flu, and so on) than other people.”

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John M. Gottman and Nan Silver. (Three-Rivers Press, 1999) Chapter 2—How I Predict Divorce—with 91% accuracy)

Men and women are different. We are wired different, we function from different brain hemispheres. Of course this is a generality. Unless we acknowledge and celebrate the differences, we move toward contempt. Because I love my wife and want to affirm her, I usually give her the five minutes she requests. (I respond to her requests for “5 minutes” with “you lie.”) The real reason is that I don’t want her to lift the chest of drawers.

Experience shows that furniture is difficult to lift while one’s body is leaning at a 45-90 degree angle toward the door.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Watch Mark Gunger, Tale of Two Brains

Factor of Plus One

Hunker Inn

I’m not depressed, feeling lonely, isolated or bored. At this point, I have everything I need. There is something I want that I can’t name and can’t find. Arby’s is advertising a creamy orange shake that may lure us out, which will a momentary pleasure, but I know it won’t satisfy long term. I’ve talked to my wife, talked to Jesus and although that was good, it didn’t fill that “spot.”

The word cumulative has been heavy on my mind today.

Last evening, a news report talked about a possible meat shortage coming by the end of the week and we’ll be wearing face masks perhaps all summer. I don’t need meat—as long as we can fry up some tofu. But I felt something new I’m not used to feeling. One of my favorite writers said, “Many of the leaders I’ve talked to are saying this is just a dress rehearsal to what is coming.”

Today we got news a friend, a person we really like and have vested words and prayer with, will be moved to hospice. Feeling! “Moving to hospice.”

Horse racing was a big deal in the 1920s. That dried up with Prohibition. There were no laws in Mexico against gambling or selling booze, so Tijuana became the place to be. The maintenance people mucked the stalls and carried it to a common place. Over time, it became Manure Mountain. It seldom rained in Tijuana, but a huge storm hit the higher ranges and floods swept down through the streets picking up M.M. pushing it through the club house, racing pavilion and wiping out everything in front of it until it sank into a body of water.

The destruction was not caused by the storm, but the storm plus. Somewhere in the time line, somebody tossed one more shovel full onto the pile. Tipping point! Catalyst! Breaking point.

Cumulative—storm plus one.

Psychologist, Dr. Archibald Hart says about anxiety—ask what is missing in you. What void keeps pushing us to the fridge or filling comfort food? In uncertainty, we look for reassurances, guarantees, explanations, reasons, something, any something that will take the edge off.

Peach cobbler with ice cream would help, maybe a satisfying coffee. But not enough. What is that feeling? Fear, maybe. It really hit me—this is a big deal! It could become as scary as all the terror movies ever made, added to all nightmares.

Cumulative—I’m thinking that word was spoken to me by Holy Spirit. We could handle most things if they came one at a time. But the stuff keeps getting tossed onto the pile. We can help ourselves by guarding proportion of what we hear, see, imagine, and try to solve. Limiting the stimuli is an act of faith—it is part of expressing our faith.

Positive cumulative—faith plus one. “Faith comes by hearing…the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Peace, Proportion, Perspective.

Monitor the cumulative

© 2020 D. Dean Benton

 

 

Bringin’ It!–Chapter 3

Bringin’ It!

R—Restoration,  EExercise,  A—Attitude,  D–Diet

      EXERCISE DISTANCING

Dr. Tim Elmore says we should not practice social distancing. Practice physical distancing and connect socially. More than semantics.

Self-awareness is an essential skill, coping asset and tool for EQ. We are news junkies, always concerned that we not miss a news flash. I became aware this morning that I needed to walk away to distance myself from the constant barrage of numbers, percentages and on-the-spot hospital images. My body, emotions, mental speculations were in the hyper range.

We—you and me—can’t fix this crisis by putting on our white lab coats. The coats with patches on the elbows. Not even when we pull up our armed chairs to listen closely. That is not good news for those of us who are fixers and repairers or really, really want to be.

Know when to take a walk. Remove yourself from the news—give yourself a break.

Singer Gary McSpadden died a few days ago. Obviously, he has been on my mind, but was not when yesterday his voice came into my mind singing, “Forgiven! I repeat! I’m forgiven!” Where did that come from? Later in the day someone posted McSpadden singing, “I Am Loved.” The second verse begins with the proclamation, “Forgiven, I’m forgiven….”

What was that about? I wasn’t feeling guilty or thinking about Gary. It wasn’t the words that crashed into my consciousness. It was his projection. He was singing a proclamation. “I repeat!!!”

Because we can’t “fix it” doesn’t mean we are powerless or inevitable victims. The feeling of inevitable is a threat that could keep us locked in spiritually and emotionally. Jesus said,

“You will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you to be witnesses unto me…” (Acts 1:8).

A habit of walking away from reasons to hang your head makes sense. Find time and place to be refilled with the Holy Spirit. Proclaim out loud and on purpose, “I am more than a conqueror through Christ who loves us (Romans 8:37. Also check out 8:15).

You’d expect almost any preacher to say that. I’m talking explicitly and aggressively distancing yourself from negative input and the constant suggestion that you are in the crosshairs.

I Repeat. Take a walk.

This is an emphatic, aggressive response to the constant negative. Why stand on the track waiting for a train?

          EXERCISE YOUR BODY—MUSCLES, JOINTS, LUNGS, NERVES

You know this drill. The point is to move. If you don’t, you’ll lock up. Stretching is as necessary to exercising as getting your heart rate up and for some of us more so. A sign we saw in Omaha:

“Take care of your body. If you don’t, where you gonna live?”

Being out of your routine causes your nerves and emotions to be super sensitive. If you are prone to depression, a walk, mowing the lawn or vacuuming the garage will help your mind, mood and more.

          EXERCISE YOUR RIGHTS AND VOICE

Being cautious not to attribute motivation—I don’t really know what drives some people to say and do what they do. There seems to be a lot of decisions made and words spoken to take advantage of the crisis to gain political leverage. Lot of that going around. More toxic and noxious than the virus. A side bar opinion:

We usually speak out of our expertise and/or experience. We want physicians to give us their best medical opinions on which they are focused. Giving them benefit of doubt, there can be tunnel-visioning. Most leaders are severely focused on helping their people survive the virus. In that commitment, The Bill of Rights, in some cases, is being ignored or trampled. I don’t know why one governor said he wasn’t even thinking about the Bill of Rights when he did what he did. My personal assumptions have an idea, but whatever, it is our right and responsibility to be reminders that more than vaccine is crucial in all this. To survive the pandemic, but to lose our sacred rights doesn’t bode well.

I’m not sure I want the “tracers” to have all my personal information. I’m not sure we can feel safe with tracers identifying our habits and locations. That sounds like Adventures of Big Brother That erosion of rights is excused by perps making fun of our protests. Ridiculing our suggestions that we have enemies and/or our questioning is linked to idiotic conspiracies—are just parts of the revolution manual. Given certain beginning assumptions, some of the conspiracy theories can make sense. (?)

Jesus’ words to our nation: “To gain the world, but lose your soul—what have you really gained?” Freedom is easy to lose. Ben Franklin was adamant about that. Vigilance and patriotic involvement is required. Among others, Os Guinness, Stephen Mansfield and Eric Metaxes fleshed that out in their writings. A couple of paragraphs from Guinness’ A Free People’s Suicide:

“If the founders were correct, contemporary America’s pursuit of political leadership without character, economic enterprise without ethics and trust, scientific progress without human values, freedom without virtue and negative freedom without positive freedom can end only in disaster.”

“Amazingly few pay serious attention to notions such as sustainable freedom, the ecology and conservation of freedom—or to the idea that freedom itself requires a living system of immunity if it is to stay healthy. This carelessness may prove lethal.” (From pages 34 & 35)

This Guinness book was copyrighted in 2012. Nothing Guinness says speaks to the past few years more than,

“It is a mark of healthy societies in times of change and crisis, they throw up leaders worthy of the time. At this point, (2012) the United States urgently needs such a leader to lead and the nation to follow.”

The Founding Fathers knew the success or failure of the American Experiment depended upon self-management. The historians I have read say the Founders could agree on the risk because they observed the habit among The People: They were self-managers and self-reliant.

I’m still in the opinion side bar. When I hear, “We are never going back to the old normal. Nothing is ever going to be the same,” I want to know the specifics of how the left and the right see the “new.” I also want to discern how God sees the new.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” Isaiah 43:19.

Given that, we speak in a positive, calm and respectful tone. Somebody or some group is going to interpret the times and opportunity to exploit (positively or negatively) the crisis to shape their vision and commitment to reshape our nation. How will you voice your preference and opinion? I repeat! The various political interests have a plan. Exercise your voice and Constitutional rights.

            EXERCISE YOUR FAITH

Faith can be defined as confidence in God. To trust in Jesus for your salvation is expressed faith. To make Jesus the center of decisions and the source of hope is faith. Faith is mostly a verb word. Faith can be spiritual energy. When we read, “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” or “Your faith has made you whole,” a church brand is not being described. I pray that my friends and family will possess and display…

Plan, Peace, Perspective, Proportion, Productivity

Faith is a spiritual muscle that is strengthened by testing and expressed in traits like those. The process is to find what we understand to be God’s desire and join our spiritual energy to God’s specific plan. James one says if we lack wisdom about God’s plan or our difficulty, just ask God and He will give it. “Lord, what should I know about this? What do you want me to do to join you in this?” Faith describes our active participation.

On my way to exercise, I read a new letter from our Compassion person in Ethiopia. Kassahun is twenty and in a college-level school. He wrote, “Dear Carole. How are you my dear mother?” He signed off with, “Your child Kassahun.” In the letter, he outlined his school experiences and then he asked, “Where did you start learning? Where did you finish?” He was asking location and subjects. The questions imply the huge limitations if we stop learning. He also asked, “What kind of books do you like from tales, spiritual, scientific, novel and etc?” He may really be our kid. Just from a different father and mother. The words, “…my dear mother,” and “Your child…” reverberate in my soul.

I took a podcast to the treadmill. It sounds like the voice of God in this Spring 2020. It is called, “The Boring Decadence of our Society.”  (Art of Manliness Podcast #604. Author Ross Douthat also did two programs with Eric Metaxes.) Douthat includes, but broadens, the common definition of decadence. After exercising and those two encounters, faith looks more essential and focused to me.

I came back to my desk with a fresh definition of the focused faith we are to exercise.

Kassahun needs our faith in him. God calls us to express confidence in His providential plans for His creation. We also need a fresh grasp of faith as described in Romans four and Hebrews six. “Things hoped for but not yet seen physically.” That faith will ignite our vision and authority to speak and do what we’ve been called to be and do.

Dr. Leonard Sweet said last week that we need a Rapture theology that “sends us into the world and not to escape the world that God so loves.” Those who are able to do that will influence the post Covid-19 pandemic world.

Exercising our faith will motivate us to think through our praying. Within my arm’s reach, are 50 (+ or -) books on prayer. I still don’t understand prayer. Why am I to ask God to do something that He already knows and wants to do? I want to know the mechanics. How is God attentive to six billion people? I can’t even hear my wife if the TV is loud. Does God personally hear and respond or does He delegate? I have not allowed any of those questions to restrict my praying, but I’m often disappointed in my intercessory production. There’s got to be more.

Princeton educated, author, TV host, speaker, Evangelical and acquaintance of many high visibility scholars and entertainers, Eric Metaxes said a few days ago, “If you have a prayer language, this is a good time to use it.”

We are social distanced from Kassahun by several thousand miles. We can’t physically pray with him or look into his eyes and understand the empty spots or thin areas that need to be filled, girded up or released through deliverance. I keep asking Jesus our Intercessor what He is praying for Kassahun so I can agree and join Him.

Holy Spirit—who knows real needs and real solutions—can pray through us. If you do not have a “prayer language,” or don’t even want one, (!!) Holy Spirit is able to reveal what to pray and how to pray God’s plan, peace, perspective and proportion into someone’s soul—their thoughts, emotions, will. We must listen with pen in hand. Ask, listen, record, pray in faith.

Country act, The Forrester Sisters, sang a song in the 80’s that captured my attention. There is a line that says, “He’s already there.” The Collingsworth Family has updated the message.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmH5QQSLtNk

That nudges me into another prayer form. We can ask, “Lord, since You are also in the future, what do you see that I should know about? Where will I fit with the gifts You’ve given me? How do I prepare? How do I pray for family and friends?”

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6).

Exercising faith in uncharted 2020 will lead us to reassess prayer. It will also stimulate us to inventory and think, feel and act out of gratitude. “Pray with thanksgiving”

            EXERCISE GRATITUDE

There seems to be an agreement among many of the prophets, preachers, teachers that I read and listen to that Passover 2020 was unique and important to our destiny. My spirit felt attuned, although I don’t know why.

Prophet/Seer James Goll says that an epoch—an era—ended with the beginning of Passover. With the beginning of Pentecost 2020, a new epoch/era will begin. I haven’t been given a glimpse, but I am praying and listening.

It’s a cliché, but true. God wasn’t surprised by COVID-19, nor did it catch Him napping. He didn’t cause it, neither will He abandon us. We cannot be too thankful as we pursue ways to participate with God during these days.

The end goal for all my words is that you and I will survive this world changing crisis. If the normal we were used to never returns, my vision is that we will be equipped and empowered to recognize and fill our spot while we influence what the new will be.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

“Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNfbpDcHZ7k

Bringin’ It!–2

When Rome destroyed Carthage (146 B.C.), they reportedly “salted the fields.” The ancient practice of “sowing the fields” or “salting the fields” was more figurative that literal. It was a symbolic cursing of the land of a defeated foe. The literal practice of salting the fields was to destroy the productivity of the soil, thus the economy, which made places uninhabitable.

Has the pandemic salted our fields?

When I heard, “The worst is yet to come—wait until the fall and winter,” I thought of Carthage and the ancient Middle East. I’m wondering if Covid-19 is inflicting harm on our land for years, or generations to come. The prospect is this pandemic will define the young generation. The biggest threat is psychological, spiritual and mental. These days are an attack on our souls, focused on individuals and consequently the nation.

Brain specialist, Dr. Daniel Amen published a new book last month: The End of Mental Illness. He was the first from whom we heard about brain plasticity which means the brain can be changed, repaired, enhanced and enabled. He was the first one we heard talking about brain scans showing different colors in the brain to indicate the condition and working or “shut down” spots. He says the burned out, stressed out, super anxious, depressed person’s brain will show up as blackened.

It is not only possible to change the dark to healthy colors, any plan to become healthy or maintain our health during this epoch of hunkering down must include restoration as part of the plan. Immunity is paramount. Having a strong body, spiritual, soul, emotional and thought immune system fights off the demonic-level panic, fear and terrifying financial uncertainty.

RESTORATION

Early in this world-wide crisis, I felt directed to pray that family and friends would acquire and maintain…

PLAN, PERSPECTIVE, PROPORTION, PEACE

It seems to me, that healthy people possess those anchors and skills. We will need those strengths to get through these times, and for sure, finding our places and filling our spot post-pandemic. Human beings are taking brutal hits in body, soul and spirit. My concern is that on the other side of this many will be wounded and weakened. An idle and laissez-faire response to the threat will darken the brain, body, soul, spirit. There are no guarantees, but there must be principles and practices that inform the mind and feed the soul.

Dr. A. R. Bernard, pastor of Christian Culture Center in New York, serves in NY on action boards with the mayor and governor. He also was hospitalized with CORVID-19 and says he is still trying to process it. He says, “This virus is evil.” His testimony, analysis and description reinforces for me that we are fighting an attack against our souls—personal and national. Bernard says the most formidable part of his experience was “the darkness.” My God!

Definitions that help me understand:

Body is the physical part of us head to toe including the brain.

Spirit is that element of the human that houses our relationship with God. The pipeline is vertical. No one can reach into our spirits but God. No person can snatch away what is there such as our salvation. It is the spirit that is born again—it comes alive when we give our lives to Christ. If we are to become as a disciple/follower of Jesus, what is in our spirits must reach what is in our souls. Again, this is a rough sketch, but it works for me.

Soul. The mind dwells there which is the software for the brain. The soul is made of our thoughts, emotions and will. I contend that we are battling a soul attack. We are battling the uncertainty—what we feel, what we think and what we do or can’t do.

None of us will reach the other side of this unscathed, therefore, we build a plan and or regimen that keeps our internal gyroscope functioning to keep us upright. This demands that we build recovery time into our schedule—“He restores my soul…” (Psalm 23).

RECOVER—RECOUP—REGENERATE—REFRESH

Recovery takes about one-seventh of our time which God set aside as Sabbath. Sabbath did and does require planning and preparation. This sheltering in place hits me most with the loss of coffee shop attendance—which is a religious act. Carole and I enjoy being together, so leaving the house is not to get away from each other. Sometimes, she has a look that says, “Don’t you need to do something in the garage for a little while?” If I’m in my office there are always things that attract my attention and call me away from thinking, reading, praying. There may be 100 people in a coffee shop with clattering dishes, scraping chairs and chattering people and I will be in a cone of silence focused on praying or thinking. I especially like coffee shops in book stores! Ah, the smell of fresh coffee and new books.

Drive-thru just doesn’t get it. So, I make a fresh cup, take a book, Bible and journal and go sit in the car to think, pray, read, fall asleep. Solar energy is wonderful. I can go to the riverfront or sit on Carole’s porch or in the patio swing. Usually, I am renewed, replenished and given a fresh perspective with a hint of clarity for the next step.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance

When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources

Our Father’s full giving is only begun. (Annie J. Flint)

When the residual resources are gone, what replenishes your soul?

You may not find pleasure sitting in a sunbeam; coffee and books regenerate little in you. What does? After her husband died, Catherine Marshall prayed hard to refill her empty soul with not much result. God spoke to her heart and instructed her to go work in her garden. I’ve known men to feel replenished when they work on their custom cars. Others are restored while fishing in the middle of a lake. This is a total person thing—not just about church things. Our souls are threatened, our emotions, thoughts and will to do, to survive, perhaps to thrive.

There is a company near Chicago that studies book selling for Walmart. Their research determines on which shelf and in which position each book should be to attract sales. Each book’s position and which shelf often shifts from week to week.

The Bible is the nation’s current best seller with sales up 60% and higher. We are looking for insight, answer, certainty, hope and how our current crisis may fit into the long term—are these the last days? The research, however, cannot tell us if the buyer is looking for God, hope or guarantees.

Guarantees are hard to find, but probability rises when we schedule restoration times and practices.

         RE-ESTABLISH—REINFORCE—REVISIT

A provocative verse says that Isaac re-dug the wells of his father. Doing so made them his own. Some who teach journaling say it allows us to return to our own testimonies of God’s faithfulness which strengthens us to trust and replenishes faith. Reinforce your life landmarks. Revisit your commitment to Jesus. Can you reimagine the altar or place when you acknowledged your need and placed your trust in Jesus?

“Jesus, I would do it again—I repeat my commitment.”

A lady I haven’t seen for decades has been in my mind lately. She was a single-mother with a difficult past. I can still hear her voice—remarkably comforting and calm. We were good friends and invested confidence in each other. Carole, our pre-school kids and I lived on and worked at a church conference center. Summer camp pushed us to build, repair for the incoming gang of kids and leaders. The open tabernacle was important to me that first summer. The first person to walk to the altar to make a commitment to Jesus was that lady’s daughter. A sense of God’s faithfulness was engraved on my soul. His faithfulness to my friend during her struggles is vivid. God did more than pat her on the back—though He did—He also guided her and empowered her. That experience is a landmark for me.

A new book came to my attention this week. The Wedge: Evolution, Consciousness, Stress, and the Key to Human Resilience. The author talks about facing stress or threats. Our mind asks if we’ve encountered anything like this before. The answer can determine our reaction. The “wedge” is the period between stimuli and reaction. What he calls “wedge” I talk about in my book on anger, stress management and depression, Turn Back the Turmoil in the chapter, “Widen the Gap.”

Reinforcing life-changing, determining events and changes strengthens us and builds resiliency. Before we react to the craziness or confusion, the gap/wedge gives us pause to calculate how we managed before and what tools we should use this time.

I’m not too quick to say that God is in control. He didn’t cause this, I am thinking that evil behavior has seeded the atmosphere to this pandemic. God gave us dominion. We can argue about what that means. It is beyond refute that God gave us dominion and responsibility for our own actions, reactions and behavior. Ephesians four tells us that negative anger (not positive anger or any emotion) is what quenches the Spirit. I’m hearing people say, “I’ve not been this angry….” If your anger or raging emotion can do something about what you face, then do that something. Your anger is legitimate, but even healthy emotions can drain energy and hope. Restoration is required.

REST—RELAX—RESET—RECREATE

Fear and anxiety are felt first physically. Muscles tense, adrenalin and cortisol flow to prepare the body to flee, fight or freeze. Sleep is disrupted, blood pressure rises, pores sweat and vision narrows. All of this is followed by exhaustion. If you do not rest and relax, burnout can follow when your body lays down and refuses to function. The body is efficient and works to protect you in response to something you feel, thought, said or do. Therefore, rest and intentional relaxation is required.

Relaxation isn’t spelled r.e.c.l.i.n.e.r. If you have an anxiety attack while driving, the best thing to do is park the car and go for a run. Flap your wings. That is what your body has prepared to do. If you do not dispense the adrenalin you are simply revving your engine, putting yourself in gear while holding the brakes on tight. That can’t be good!

Intentionally relaxing is learning where you carry stress and tightening your muscle groups until (some say) they are ready to cramp and then relaxing them. Lie down, begin with your toes and work your way to your eyebrows. Tightening your eyebrows at a stoplight is fun and will attract attention. This practice attacks anxiety rather than allowing anxiety attack you.

No seminar leader is worth preservative salt unless he or she talks about breathing. Deep breathing is a mandatory tool to bring restoration. Watch a healthy and safe baby breathing. Their stomach moves not their shoulders. Stick out your gut, breathe into your abdomen. A counselor I listened to today called proper, restful breathing, “Foursquare breathing.” Breath in through your nostrils for 4 seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, purse your lips and breathe out for 4-seconds and then hold it four more seconds. Be careful, deep breathing can make you light headed or cause hyperventilation. Deep breathing takes getting used to.

Correct breathing sends a message to your brain which alerts the body: everything is cool. Relax, you are not the target of incoming missiles. One of the ways I know I need to breathe is I feel my shoulders acting like earmuffs. When we are anxious we tend to hold our breath. Our family automatically says to each other, “Don’t forget to breathe.”

You cannot hit your notes or sing well until you breathe right. Breath control is the first thing to learn. Dr. Amen says intentional relaxed breathing is part of the regimen that will turn your brain from dark to bright colors.

Before the pandemic, Americans were severely sleep deprived. Getting adequate rest is part of the restoration. The first 90-minutes of sleep nudges growth hormones to rebuild the body. That sleep must be undisturbed. I won’t recite all the rules about not having your cell-phone next to the bed or having the TV on. Rest will help restore your immune system.

RELATE—RE-CREATE

Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil, both scientists, are saying the isolation may be the worst thing that could have been done. Obviously, it restricts possibility of spreading the virus, but it will affect many more people in the short and long run than the disease. We need relationships. We need touch and interaction. One of our preachers said Jesus knew the leper needed a touch. A leper was isolated and quarantined outside the city, outside the camp. Jesus touched and the touch was a healing agent.

A movie I saw a long, long ago is about a man who was exiled by his country. He was no longer a citizen and no other nation would accept him. He belonged to no one, no group accepted him. He had no one to play catch with, no one to sit across the table. No one to hug. Totally outside every camp! That causes stress just to think about it. We need people. Fellowship, no matter how you define it, is a basic requirement. Talk about essential!

Your number one coping mechanism against stress, depression and burnout is one close friend with whom you interact regularly. According to research, your number two coping tool is to belong to a group. Relationships are necessary. Participatory relationships restore us and keep us thinking right, feeling right and doing healthy things. The single habit of not interacting with people will salt your fields. Loneliness is more dangerous to your health than smoking.

He restores my soul.

Governor Cuomo, speaking of flattening the curve, said, “God didn’t do this.” I don’t know what he meant, but I tend to agree with the words.

God will not work without you to restore you.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his paths.” It always feels to me as if the word ‘but’ in the statement should be ‘and.’ “…and the Lord directs his paths.”

Proverbs 3:6 “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”

“Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” I pray that good news was received.

© 2020 D. Dean Benton

       Bringin’ It!

Four Chapters

R–RESTORATION

E—EXERCISE

A—ATTITUDE

D–DIET