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Have a happy Palm Sunday

When did Jesus’ Triumphal Entry end? The Gospel writers tell two stories. One narrative has Jesus entering the city, walking around and looking at the Temple and then going to Bethany to return the next day to “cleanse” the Temple. The other story has Jesus entering the city and chasing the money changers out of the Temple immediately.

“Here, hold the colt while I take care of Temple pollution.”

Since Jesus orchestrated the Triumphal Entry, I wonder what his intention was—what outcome? He had avoided the applause and told people to tone down the rhetoric. He usually left town when the crowds started making noise about declaring him king. But on Palm Sunday things changed. For what purpose?
The Entry didn’t end there, but when the parade reached the overlook and Jesus saw the city, the cheering stopped and Jesus wept. He predicts what is going to happen. The last phrase of Luke 19:41-44 sets my soul on edge. “…you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.” Other writers quote Jesus saying, “…you didn’t recognize your opportunity.”

Henry Clay from Kentucky was a professional presidential candidate. His life focus for nearly thirty years was running for president. I am not surprised that the United States survived the Civil War as much as I am surprised she survived Henry Clay. In the 1824 election, Clay swung the election away from Jackson, who had won the popular vote, to John Quincy Adams through an electoral college maneuver. It was called “the corrupt bargain.” On his death bed, Andrew Jackson said one of his regrets was that he did not shoot Henry Clay.

Not much has been said about the election of 1840. Over three decades Clay ran for and lost the presidential election three times in three different political parties. He was still actively looking for ways to move into the White House. In 1840 William Henry Harrison was selected to be the presidential candidate and the party offered the Vice-Presidential slot to Henry Clay. He refused. “Disdainfully,” the historian says. He would not be shuttled off to a secondary position. He had worked for the nomination and above everything and everyone, he deserved it. The establishment, therefore, selected John Tyler as Harrison’s running mate.

One month after the election, William Henry Harrison died and the vice-president John Tyler became President. Henry Clay had missed his opportunity.
Back to that hill overlooking Jerusalem. Jesus weeps over missed opportunities and the unavoidable consequences. Was he talking about the single mother or the Jewish fellow who operated the neighborhood deli? What could they have done to shift outcomes? What did Jesus want from them? How had they sealed the fate of this city—“you of all people would understand the way to peace” (Luke 19:42b)?

Henry Clay would run for the presidency again in 1844. He lost. Novelist-historian Irving Stone says,

“He blamed his defeat on fraud, foreigners, Catholics, abolitionists, Tyler-ites, renegade Whigs—on everything except the life, career and character of Henry Clay.”

The King James Version translates Luke 19:44: “…because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

I don’t know what to do on Palm Sunday. We cannot duplicate it with a great worship event. I worry about the colt getting home and how Jesus’ words impact that Jerusalem deli owner. What am I to do with the palm branches—it feels so awkward and unnatural. So I get stuck with Jesus overlooking the city and weeping. It is easy to tuck Matthew 23:37 into the story:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

I don’t want to miss the “visitation.” So, I calculate my life, actions, character and contemplate what needs correction or adjustment. I stand as close to the colt as security allows and say to Jesus, “I don’t get all of this. But, I’m willing. What? Where? With whom? I’m willing.” Jesus is Lord!

What is the appropriate Palm Sunday gift?

©2018 D. Dean Benton—first published March 2016—


Thank You, Mr. Graham

The most influential instrument in my boyhood was the radio on top of my grandmother’s refrigerator. It must have been uniquely wired. All it ever broadcast was the farm news, preachers and singers. I’m still not sure what a pork belly is, but I got it straight when it came to preachers and singers.

I don’t know the first time I heard Billy Graham preach. It just seems like the whole Graham team was always part of our family. We listened to The Hour of Decision beginning before I could reach the radio dial. We knew the Wilson brothers, George Beverly Shea. I was impacted by Cliff and Billie Barrows. Later, we met the wife and family of the crusade pianist and many men who worked with Mr. Graham. A man attended one of our meetings who told me he had spent the week with “Billy.” I couldn’t figure out who he was talking about until he said, “Ruth.” He had been a Graham team member during the Youth for Christ days.

During the days when my family of origin was fragmenting, we lived at Grandma’s on several occasions. We were at radio side during the Los Angeles crusade and heard the stories of gangsters, entertainers, athletes and educators coming to faith in Jesus. Those names and stories became part of my youth.

By the fifth grade, Mr. Graham family and team were extended family. It was not long after the L.A. Crusade that Graham came to Des Moines. We were about the last ones getting into the building. Mom and sister found two seats together in the third balcony and I found one open seat on the last row at the top of the auditorium. When the altar call was given, I found Mom and told her I was going to the altar. It seems to be my first confession of faith—“Mom, I’m going forward….” It felt a long trip down the back stairs to the main floor and then walk to the stage where I met a counselor.
Even when I wasn’t living for the Lord, I knew one day I would be a preacher-evangelist.
Radio, television and music gripped me. I made many altar call walks during the long journey of healing. The Graham ministry was important in that process. I learned about ministry integrity. It was Mr. Graham who first announced he would not be with another woman than his wife for dinner or in a car. He had a team around him, friends he had known most of his life, who entered every hotel room to make sure there would never be a morality question. His office team lived with strict guidance handling the money. And the Graham generosity became the standard. The important things I saw in the lives of the major evangelists I studied or worked with were financial integrity and open handed generosity. Carole and I benefitted from several convocations, conferences and gatherings paid for by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. The same can be said about Oral Roberts whose desire to do all things top drawer and generous sowing into pastors impacted me.

Several years ago, we visited the Chapel on the Graham Asheville, N.C. campus. Our friends Gary and Marilyn Hansen lived in Asheville and were tour guides on that trip. If you’ve watched the Gaither Homecoming series, you have seen the singers in that chapel. Any description of my experience in that prayer loft and visit to that chapel would be inadequate. I was very aware of what Jesus had done in me, and his present active work. I felt recommissioned. And so appreciative for the people who had influenced me and been agents of change and healing. I regret we didn’t stay longer—days longer—to wander over the many acres to encounter Christ and further celebrate the company of witnesses whose presence permeated the landscape.

Thank you, Mr. Graham for your faithfulness and example.

©2018 D. Dean Benton

After “Thoughts & Prayers”

“In the last days World view will rise against world view” Jesus—Matthew 24

Has our culture become an infectious place to catch mental illness?
This is too serious to offer simplistic solutions except where simplistic is the obvious solution. Dr. Jordan Peterson a prof at Harvard and U of Toronto, whose book was selected for the Oprah Book Club, was asked why we are in the chaos we are. His answer—dismissing God. When God is voted off the island, the source and foundation of civility, laws and infrastructure of social interaction goes too.

I’ve been researching how we got to “bat shit crazy” to quote a Younger’s description of where we are. To enter a schools intending to kill with an attack rifle by definition is an act of insanity driven by frustration not necessarily hate. We must understand the paths that brought us here.

The Foreword to Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life—An Antidote to Chaos (©2018 Random House Canada) is written by Dr. Norman Doidge, MD, teacher at Harvard & U of Toronto, author of The Brain that Changes Itself. He and Peterson have a handle on how we arrived at and in this chaos. I quote here my underlinings and thoughts from Doidge’s Foreword:

(When our culture erased all “absolutes,” rules became unwelcome and “unnecessary.”)

“…without rules we quickly become slaves to our passions—and there’s nothing freeing about that.”

“…alongside our wish to be free of rules, we all search for structure.”
“The hunger among many younger people for rules, or at least guidelines, is greater today for good reason. In the West at least, millennials are living through a unique historical situation. They are, I believe, the first generation to have been so thoroughly taught two seemingly contradictory ideas about morality, simultaneously—at their schools, colleges and universities…. This contradiction has left them at times disoriented and uncertain, without guidance and, more tragically, deprived of riches they don’t even know exist.”

“The first idea or teaching is that morality is relative, at best a personal ‘value judgment.’ Relative means that there is no absolute right or wrong in anything; instead, morality and the rules associated with it are just a matter of personal opinion or happenstance, ‘relative to’ or ‘related to’ a particular framework, such as one’s ethnicity, one’s upbringing, or the culture or historical moment one is born into. It’s nothing but an accident of birth. According to this argument (now a creed) history teaches that religions, tribes, nations and ethnic groups tend to disagree about fundamental matters, and always have. Today the postmodern left makes the additional claim that one’s group’s morality is nothing but its attempt to exercise power another group. So, the decent thing to do—once it becomes apparent how arbitrary your and your society’s ‘moral values’ are—is to show tolerance for people who think differently, and who come from different (diverse) backgrounds. The emphasis on tolerance is so paramount that for many people one of the worst character flaws a person can have is to be ‘judgmental.’ And since we don’t know right from wrong, or what is good, just about the most inappropriate thing an adult can do is give a young person advice how to live.

“And so a generation has been raised untutored in what was once called, aptly, ‘practical wisdom.’

“Aristotle defined the virtues simply as the ways of behaving that are most conducive to happiness in life. Vice—least conducive….”
“By contrast, our modern relativism begins by asserting that making judgments about how to live is impossible, because there is no real good and no true virtue (as these too are relative). Thus relativism’s closed approximation to ‘virtue’ is tolerance.”

Want to see what a society looks like when morality is nothing but relative? Watch the evening news—network of your choice. Check out the video games, watch movies, listen to conversations—if all profane words of the “F-bomb” type were taken out, we would have semi-silent movies. I wonder if we have so many school shootings because the shooters do not know right from wrong. Mental illness becomes close to inevitable for some because there is a portion of the brain that demands virtue, a sense of wrong and awareness of inevitable consequence to live sane and whole. Life as we want it cannot be sustained under nihilistic rubric.

I have several friends who work in maximum security prisons and others working in less secure facilities. They concur that family has influenced lawless behavior—a generational pattern. I come away from those conversations feeling sad and borderline hopeless. Families with bad actors, or non-involved parents or parents whose energy is depleted by their personal attempt to survive, homes broken and unsafe. This healing vision would be about healing the culture of broken families—empowering single-parents.

All of this is bouncing around my soul at the same time I’m trying to make sense of God’s promise to Abram that he and his family (even into 2018 and beyond) would bless all nations. (Genesis12:3c)

I don’t think the public schools should accommodate Christian education, so I’m thinking some churches could become builders of change-agents and leaders. What would that look like? Revamp Education approach. Sunday school was started by Robert Raikes to feed and teach kids to read. He paid the students to attend. We need to build something with Raikes objective, but with a different name—something inviting and inspiring credibility. Such institutes (you will choose a better name.) would be about building a more civil and stronger cultural infrastructure. I’m thinking franchise with different churches specializing in different age groups. Each “franchisee” would hire or assign age-grade specialists with training and calling for their designated age-group.

Specialists: counselors/therapists, teachers, mentors and healthy family. Also, a tribe of men who will become companions like Native American Elders who teach boys to become men.

Driving Core Values—of a culture that develops whole persons:

Biblical worldview (in contrast to relativism), Family, Healing of memories, Training for thriving, Discovery of gifts, purpose, destiny, self-appreciation, God’s love.

The curriculum would include Emotional Intelligence. (This is a bare bones outline):

I think of Ishmael as the poster child for millions of people in our country who are touched by the potentially corrosive damage of instable families. Not every kid of divorce is marred or scarred, but their life-trajectory is shifted or refocused—sometimes out of focus.

On the mythical conference grounds—Southwood—we have built an octagon shaped building. Rooms open out onto a porch and open inward onto a balcony overlooking a performance auditorium. Each room is constructed and furnished to focus on one topic.

We have opportunity to disciple the wounded or the incomplete for a couple of years or five, maybe ten. What skills, knowledge, experiences, will they need to thrive? What do we want to produce during their tenure with us?
The biggest barrier to being a whole person is self-hatred, dislike or diminishment, therefore room one would have to be healing and deliverance leading to self-acceptance. Room two would contain education about Emotional Intelligence. E.Q. is more predictive of success and life fulfillment than I.Q., and it can be learned. To be specific, I call your attention to brain trust of Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman who outlines The Emotional Competence Framework.
Personal Competence

1. Self-Awareness—Emotional awareness, Accurate self-awareness, Self-confidence
2. Self-Regulation—Self-Control, Trustworthiness, Conscientiousness, Adaptability, Innovation
3. Self-Motivation—Achievement drive, Commitment, Initiative, Optimism
4. Self-Soothing—Stress management, Managing self-talk, Body relaxation
2. Social Competence
5. Empathy—Understanding others, Developing others, Service orientation, Reading a room.
6. Social Skills—Influence, Communication, Conflict management, Leadership, Change Catalyst, Building bonds, Cooperation, Team Cooperation (p 26-27 Working with E.Q. 1998, Bantam Books)

Financial education: how to give, save, spend wisely. I would want intergenerational groups to help build a healthy family mindset and available mentors, coaches, teachers. In our work with addicts, we notice how many would be helped to learn to make wise decisions. How about discovering personal strengths through Briggs-Meyers surveys and Spiritual gifts? A place to determine purpose, callings, life-missions.

In that performance center, we worship, we hear peers and models describe how God is working in their lives to show us how God can do so in us. We are taught Scriptural Principles through teaching, preaching and interaction.

The curriculum would include Ten Commandments using the principles behind the “rules.”
1. Truth—Basis, discernment, living decision-making
2. Reality—how to recognize
3. Power of words
4. Boundaries
5. Family
6. Value life
7. Sex—morality, intimacy, honoring
8. Empathy
9. Integrity—acquiring knowledge and wisdom, living honestly
10. Community—respect for racial, ethnic, religious differences without compromising your own.

Given the present feelings toward church, the place these gatherings, classes, seminars meet may have to be in neutral settings. Age-range: k-12.

Malcom Gladwell writes in Outliers about three groups of geniuses. There are lines in the description of the low achieving C group that grip me:

“What did the Cs lack? Not something expensive or impossible to find; not something encoded in DNA or hardwired into the circuits of their brains. They lacked something that could have been given to them if we’d only known they needed it: a community around them that prepared them properly for the world. The Cs were squandered talent. But they didn’t need to be.” Outliers, Malcom Gladwell, Little, Brown and Company, 2008. Page 111

That is how Abraham’s family can bless the nations.

This is a proposal. What am I missing? What grabs you? What is the next step? I would like to talk about this.

©2018 D. Dean Benton

Invite Well-Being

For more than a year I’ve been studying and writing about The Blessing God spoke into Abram and then empowering Abram to bless others. (Genesis 12:1-4). How would Abram know he had been blessed? In what ways would life be different because of The Blessing?

The last thing that Jesus did before ascending into heaven… “he lifted His hands and blessed them” (Luke 24:50). It was/is more than a benediction preceding “See you at the buffet.” The prayer of blessing He spoke is…

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face shine upon you
And be gracious to you;
The Lord turn His face toward you
And give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26.)

Aaron and his sons were instructed to pray this prayer over Israel—“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them” (6:27).

This is the blessing:

“The Lord bless you”—give something of value to you.

“Keep you”—While the image of blessing is a camel kneeling, keeping is a corral of thorns to keep predators away. Think: “And deliver us from evil.”

“Make His face to shine upon you”—acceptance and favor—empowered to achieve, succeed.

“Turn His face toward you.” A rabbi connects this to God bending over Adam to look into his face and breathe the breath of life—a portable breath of abundant life in you.

“And give you peace.” This word means something larger than the absence of war or attack. It means “a positive state of rightness and well-being.” Not about religious righteousness, but a state of mental and emotional sense that things are “right” and you are in a state of well-being. It also means restoration of deficiency–peace restored where emptiness, lack, void has been caused by someone else.

The teacher said, say this prayer over yourself. Look in the mirror and say, “The Lord bless you…” habitually.

A Hebraic interpretation of the Aaronic Blessing
With the Hebraic understanding of each of these Hebrew words, we can better understand the true meaning of the Aaronic blessing as it was understood by the Ancient Hebrews.

YHWH will kneel before you presenting gifts and will guard you with a hedge of protection.

YHWH will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you bringing order and he will give you comfort and sustenance.

YHWH will lift up his wholeness of being and look upon you and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete. ( Source:

The purpose is to move from abstract words to the experience of being blessed as a normal benefit of the Believer. Pray it over yourself while looking into your own eyes.

©2018 D. Dean Benton

No tear in the eagle’s eye

You may have seen on network news a video of an eagle floating past our town on a Mississippi River ice floe. Something inviting about the drift toward Memphis and New Orleans. Some days I just go that spot to read and pray. Other days I sense God saying, “Let’s go to the riverfront.”

On the day the network caught the eagle, I was invited to the river. I came away instructed, visited and enriched. I read thirty pages from Peggy Noonan’s book Patriotic Grace. (HarperCollins, 2008). The startling punch came from the date. 2008! Not much positive has changed in the ten years since; the issues have expanded. In 2008, she offered… “some rough thoughts on what I think we need.” Sound good for 2018.

“We need the best possible national defense, couple with an attitude of wisdom, forbearance, and peacefulness toward the world. A civil defense system worthy of the name. An America that is stronger at home—with a stronger physical and cultural infrastructure.”

The phrase was new to me and struck me like a blunt object: “Stronger cultural infrastructure.” What would that look like? Ms. Noonan says,

“…what we need right now in our national political life is a kind of patriotic grace, a grace that takes the long view, apprehends the moment we’re in, comes up with ways of dealing with it, and eschews the politically cheap and manipulative.” (page 147)

Last night part of the entertainment industry held their own State of the Union event. They called my wife, me, and some friends “the dark underbelly of America.” They pledged not to stop until they have swept America clear of about half of the population.

What would blossom into a “stronger cultural infrastructure?”

“…those things that ease the stresses we feel as a nation, the tears and divisions we feel, should be encouraged. We drive each other crazy. We fight as if we’ll never need each other. We fight like a drunken family hurling charges against each other in the living room while there’s a fire in the attic and it’s traveling down the stairs.” (p. 147-8)

Ten years ago, Ms. Noonan spoke of immigration:

“Why not be humane, be American, and recognize the moment we’re in. Take a pause, close the border to illegal passage now, for reasons of national security. Continue legal immigration, with an eye to one thing: admitting as new citizens those who bring particular skills our nation particularly needs.
“As for those who’ve come here over the past twenty years or so illegally…easy does it. There, that’s a platform for the moment: Easy does it. Those who break our laws, indulging in violent behavior? Send them back. Goodbye!”

“We must tend to the ties that hold us together as citizens of America.”

And what are those ties? Our history. A line repeatedly used in the third section of the book: “Let us recognize the moment we’re in.” Peggy Noonan quotes a 2002 speech by Bruce Cole who was then head of the National Endowment for the Humanities who observed the “American amnesia” or ignorance of the history that should hold us together. He said in that speech:

“Citizens kept ignorant of their history are robbed of the richness of their heritage…. A nation that does not know why it exists, or what it stands for, cannot be expected to long endure…. We cannot expect that a nation which has lost its memory will keep its vision.”

One of the “ties” that binds a civilized society is a modicum of respect. I feel protective of Melania Trump. I am angered by the attempt to trash her. I may hire the Andrew Jackson militia to drop by the potty-mouthed people’s platform to tap them on the shoulder and demand an apology to our First Lady. Among others!

The thirty plus pages I read stimulated me. It really is a fine piece of thinking and writing expressed with appreciation for both legitimate sides of the aisle. I invite you to read at least pages 133-160 of Patriotic Grace.

Thanks for reading this Benton Blog.

D. Dean Benton–writer, wonderer

Why? When? How?

I have a friend from junior high whose name is Marvel. I talk to her occasionally. At one of our early high school reunions, she saw me and exclaimed, “Dean Benton. I thought you were dead!” I am delighted she is one of my classmates with whom I’ve reconnected. Since that greeting, I’ve felt obligated to keep her informed of my state of health. She is interesting. However, I don’t know her well enough as an adult to know if she has lived up to her name. She did Facebook me one morning to tell me she was about to board a ship on the sea near Rome. But she didn’t tell me if she marveled at the sights, felt awe of being in Rome and if she liked the food and/or wine.

Marvel and marveling came to mind as I began to read the bio of Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. My appreciation for painting is thin. Most of the paintings I’ve seen have been screwed to motel walls.

By page three of the bio, I was marveling at Leonardo who was the original Renaissance man. He saw himself as an engineer, a designer of bridges, waterways, cannons, armored vehicles and public buildings. His preliminary drafts of the human body are astonishing. He autopsied bodies to learn about muscles that made movement possible. Before he drew the Mona Lisa, he studied muscles that enabled a smile. Then he painted The Smile.

Isaacson says, “…(Leonardo’s) driving passion which was nothing less than knowing everything there was to know about the world, including how we fit in into it.”

The artist’s notebooks are as important as his paintings. They contain drawings, journaling, ideas and to do lists. One of the things he reminded himself to do: “Describe the tongue of the woodpecker.” Art historian Kenneth Clark called him, “The most relentlessly curious man in history.”

If we could filter him to one behavior, it would be curiosity. “His curiosity was pure, personal, and delightfully obsessive.”
Why would he care what a woodpecker’s tongue was like? “…because he was Leonardo: curious, passionate, and always filled with wonder.”

All of that is interesting to me because I’ve noticed the absence of or minimum amount of curiosity, passion, wonder and marveling. Raw worship is captured by those four words.

John Eldredge and his adult sons were talking about masculinity and how men are wired and what keeps them involved in a spiritual journey. Two things that a man’s heart hungers for: adventure and battle. Most of the things we do at church are kinda the opposite. We sit in church and sing (some are clearly feminine songs), then we go to Sunday school to talk and sit around a table to share, most of which I enjoy. But, where are men challenged to adventure? To what battle?

Some of my friends would ditch church to go hunting for Elk. And in the hunting they engage the presence of God. Increasingly, I think the most important thing we teach youth is how to adventure—stir into a raging fire the asset of curiosity. What is beyond the hill crest and how do we battle appropriately.

What if the sexual harassment and sexual pursuit now rocking our world is the normal and empowering adventure and the hunt “gene” captured by evil to distort and destroy a man?

The step to healing for otherwise healthy men is not to drain him of testosterone and castrate him, but direct his curiosity and instinct to hunt. For example, where is the drive to battle against neighborhoods of poverty and drugs and hopeless? Who are the Leonardo men?

Curiosity, passion, wonder, obsession.

That calls for pastoral messages that evoke questions: “How do we do that? Where do we start? What specialist do we hire to instruct us? Where is the curiosity to stimulate the questions?

Marvel, I’m praying your day will be adventurous and marvelous.

©2018 D. Dean Benton continue the conversation:

Eleven Nations or One World

There are eleven nations in North America each with its own culture, language, foods, economy and preferences–Pepsi or Coke. We studied the nine nations of North America during college. Colin Woodard’s thinking was on my Internet home page this morning. (

We became very aware of this when we were on the road. Material that was viewed as powerful in Madison, Wisconsin was critiqued as boring in Colorado and Montana. Country act Alabama sing, “If you play in Texas, you’d better bring a fiddle and a bow.” That is a large statement. If you hope to influence or sell in one of the eleven, you better understand the culture.

Also this morning I listened to Art of Manliness Podcast ( which is one of my favorites. The guest was Franklin Foer author of the book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech. He posits that the most insidious threat to our nation is homogeneity and the primary actors are Facebook, Google and Amazon. Those three companies are becoming monopolies that could raise trust-buster Teddy Roosevelt from the grave. We assume that Facebook, Google and Amazon are businesses intending to make money. They also desire to “stitch” countries and cultures together into one thought, and one source of provisions. They have a political and cultural agenda which contradicts American individualism.

Since I was a boy in Bible Prophecy conferences, I’ve heard phrases like “One World Government.” I am wondering if this is the means by which that can happen—Mark of the Beast kind of stuff—ability to buy and sell, one mind.

I am not attributing motivation to the 3 High Tech companies. They may desire great things. I am concerned about the cost. It seems to me that we are in a battle of individualism against collectivism. I don’t want to suggest conspiracy. I am thinking about power concentrated in three entities and the consequences.

My purpose here is to call your attention to these two resources. I also want to suggest we duct tape to our mind Teddy Roosevelt’s concept of being first and foremost American. Developing the uniqueness of each “nation” and celebrating what they bring to the “United States” rather than tearing down their statues and diminishing the values they bring to us. We are, after all, The United States of America, not The One State of America.

There is no value in going to a pre-Internet, pre-iPhone world, even if we could. I invite you to listen to the Art of Manliness show and check the main points of the Eleven Nation thinking. Thanks.
©2018 D. Dean Benton

Access to Highly Favored?

I don’t know if I’m into heavy-duty OCD or if God is pushing me, but I feel driven. This started it:

“Greatly blessed, highly favored, imperfect, but forgiven child of God.”
(Larry Gatlin

What does that mean and how do you and I activate it? Ephesians 1:3 says “God…who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every blessing in Christ.” God Genesis 12:1-3 reveals the Abrahamic blessing which reaches to all the children of Abraham: “You are blessed…you will be a blessing”. Deuteronomy 28 expands that shorthand to include the physical, financial, business, breadbaskets, and every part of life. One key word opens the door: obedience. Are we hearing the right instructions to obey?

An article about Tanya Harding published today tells how she got into the mess. I’m not sure if getting saved would have been the total answer to that mess. Her salvation would have aligned her spirit with God, but her soul—mind, emotions, decision-making needed (needs) to be healed. When people hear me talking about wounds, I fear they are hearing “boo boos.” No, the wounds are Lizzy Borden kind of inflicted wounds. Ms. Harding’s interviewer says forgiveness is not expected by Tanya, but the ex-skater wants the world to understand how the survival mode afflicts people and how it affects her.

I drive through a section of our town which is not the slums, but untouched by the Kingdom. Drugs, working poor, and those of all ages who have settled for life below their dreams. A study from six or eight years ago revealed that those people tune into TV evangelists and religious programs at a remarkable rate higher than the state average. If they are followers of Jesus, they are blessed by virtue of that relationship. The ache in my soul is how do they make the “favored” part operational?

“Highly favored” is not just words in a song, it is a sterling biblical word. It describes how “blessing” moves into our social, business and street life. Bill Johnson (Bethel Church-Redding, California) teaches that favor is for those the blessed interact with. It has to trickle down or it is not God’s favor.

I keep asking how a church, para-church or non-profit can reach into that neighborhood and deliver a message and skill-set of greatly blessed, highly favored.

Yesterday, Eric Geiger posted “Who are the iGeneration and What Does Research Tell us?” They are the generation following Millennials. Sometimes called Gex x. Born in 1995 through 14-17 years post 1995. Today they are 6-23 years old. Jen Twenge’s book, iGen is the current definitive study. She lists these differences in iGen-ers:

1. Less reading
2. Less happiness
3. Less social skills
4. Less community
5. Less mental health
6. Less sleep
7. Less risks
8. Less altruism
9. Less hopeful
10. Less religious and less spiritual
11. Less emotionally connected
12. Less politically aligned. (For full article:

Ages Six to twenty-three years are critical life-determining years. There is a measurable population of that age group living in the neighborhood I drive through. I wonder how to communicate and influence. Salvation means “Whole!” Not just rescue from hell, but living in the greatly blessed and highly favored tribe.

Of the twelve characteristics, I don’t see any reason the iGen-er would be interested or motivated except for those who are already unique and motivated. (I know outliers whose walk with Jesus and life-dreams contrast.) The twelve characteristics lead to more isolation, disconnection and fearful of and less trusting of outsiders. More depression, anxiety, non-curious and despair.

My soul is churning. That means my conclusions are shifting, but at this moment:
1. Discern what the controlling spirit of that neighborhood is.
2. Pray specifically that curiosity is awakened and heightened. Awakening is the operative word.
3. The “evangelists” learn not only the raw 12, but what lies behind those feelings and characteristics and speak to those felt needs in a safe place—probably not a church. Maybe a church functioning as a coffee house or community center. Beyond the “less” there will be desires, wants and longings.

Highly favored means, endorsed by God, access to resources, support, advantages, assistants to accomplish vision, productive efforts.

Heavenly Father, you desire your lost children to be found. Call laborers into this field. Implant a vision of transformed and anointed iGens. I ask you will grant favor to those evangelists with an natural entrée of influence into the iGens. Teach us strategies. Thank you.

©2018 D. Dean Benton to continue this discussion:

Target: Middle School

I received a comment yesterday about a Benton Quest House blog in August, 2016—“What Is it About 4?”

The comment: “There is a great ministry in Texas called Academy 4, which provides mentoring and character coaching to 4th grade students.”

I appreciated the comments at the original blog publication. It is great to see a church which is specializing with 4th graders. They work in public schools.

The link to their website is:

Genesis says that God chose Abram because He knew Abram would teach his children. I’m sorry the Bible does not include the curriculum God expected Abram/Abraham to use. In my work in progress—Meanderings—I have included my view of what such a program might look like. Academy 4 shows what works for them.

I’ve been consulting with a church about focusing their mission on a niche that will include a stream of unchurched and under employed Jesus followers. How about 4th graders? Or 4-5-6—middle school—or 3-4-5. “Touch the head of a child and reach the heart of a family.”

Original Benton blog:

We are building a octagon-shaped building at SouthWood. There are education/seminar/experience rooms surrounding a performance center. Each room is constructed to equip a middle schooler to grow in specifics that touch their lives. The building is revealed in my 2018 book The Carafe Mission.

2018–The year of mission.
(c)2017 D. Dean Benton

Taste of Gladness

There was just enough left on my Starbucks gift card from last Christmas for a white chocolate mocha. (Thanks!) I took it to the car in the sun to seek God, enjoy the warmth and let the white chocolate bless me.

I’ve been reading Mark Batterson’s book, Whisper—How to Hear the Voice of God, (Multnomah, 2017) Batterson quotes Fred Buechner:

“The voice we should listen to most as we choose vocation is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us the gladdest?…I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it a good thing and it is our thing.”

Batterson adds, “It is a God thing.”

Voice of our own gladness. That throws a bright light on the subject. Pleasant. Delicious. And a huge clue. That ranks right up there with white chocolate. And God is into gladness. Merry Christmas.

©2017 D. Dean Benton