Category Archives: Uncategorized

An Easter I Remember

Hannah, our granddaughter, is 21 today. The words below are from the Postlude of my book, ON MY FAMILY WATCH. The ebook is available free to you during this COVID-19 crisis. Go to:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DDBenton/

Scroll past the profile to the list of my books. ON MY FAMILY WATCH can be found there.

A short time before our third grandchild, Hannah, was to be born, Deborah’s blood pressure pushed the doctor to admit her and induce labor immediately. It was Easter weekend. We had a Sunrise service, a Sunday School seminar and a worship event scheduled. Carole has insisted on occupying the waiting room when her grandchildren were being born, so I drove to do the meeting alone. We thought Easter was a good day to give birth. You know—the day she came forth from the womb.

I called the hospital between Sunday School and church to chart progress. As I walked out of the church office, a man asked how Debi was doing. In my fogged state I said, “They are inducing pregnancy even as we speak.” He looked at me and said, “Oh, I think they are well past that.”

The organist hadn’t finished the postlude before I was in my vehicle on the four-hour trip to the hospital. The deal was, “Debi, I want the pushing, screaming, sweating over and a kid produced before I get back.” Well, it didn’t happen. The doctor said we were hours away. We decided I should go to the house, feed the cats, let the dogs out and take a nap. I’m not too great in the delivery room! I would rather opt out than pass out, so going to the house sounded like a good idea to me.

We prayed together before I left. Some weeks before, I felt instructed that we should talk to and about Hannah using her name. On that Easter afternoon, I prayed for Hannah’s journey through the birth canal. I spoke to her by name and told her she was going to be all right. It felt odd to pray like that.

When my chores were finished, I stretched out in the recliner and settled into a deep sleep. Suddenly, I was wide awake. An indescribable loneliness in my stomach had awakened me. I knew I was about to lose someone. I ran to the van, drove two blocks before the tears started to flow. I began to intercede for Hannah and Debi. I drove three or four miles before sobs and tears forced me to park. I prayed like a woman in travail. I applied the power of the blood of Jesus over the infant and mother. I denied Satan access to this child. I groaned and allowed Holy Spirit utterances that were more like moans. Perhaps a half-an-hour passed in prayer before the burden lifted. I drove on to the hospital feeling absolute victory and relief.

When I got to the hospital, I was informed there was a problem. They rushed Hannah to neo-natal ICU. She was premature, had come down the birth canal in the wrong position and was having a difficult time waking up. Several hours later, the specialist assured us Hannah would be fine. She awoke. She indeed came forth. We celebrated the victory! The constricting shell was not large enough. The emerging had been difficult. Breaking out of the shell usually is.

The Easter when she was four, Hannah told her mother that she was going to be a preacher, teacher and singer.

Palm Sunday 2020, Hannah is a junior at University of Kentucky majoring in music and math. Happy birthday, Hannah.

Carole and I are happiest being with children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews learning from them and listening to their insights and laughter.

(c)2020 D. Dean Benton—wonder, writer, witness, husband, father, grandfather

Fareway has peanut butter on sale.

God knows science!

Apart from the faith-based networks and programs, I have not heard the words “pray” or “prayer” in reference to the Covid-19 pandemic on all the discussions about Covid-19.  In an earlier age, leaders would have called us to prayers. Presidents and governors called citizens to prayer and fasting in crisis times. I suspect some leaders are avoiding “pray!” to avoid being charged with “…doesn’t believe in science.” My concern is an implication that, “We and the scientists have got this.”

Update:  Our daughter said President Trump has called for prayer. I’m gladly corrected.

One of my favorite leaders in the NBA (whose family numbers 19 kids—biological and adopted)—said, “Don’t forget the Lord is in still in control.” Out of a good heart he said, “Just stay close to the Lord during this time.” I know what he means, but I’m not sure how a biblically illiterate world will understand. We have declared that Jesus is Lord. Is God in control? That is a legitimate faith-statement. We cannot forget we have an enemy who busy seeking to “kill, steal, destroy.”

We are inventorying our pantry and water supplies. (Peanut butter is on sale at Fareway for 99 cents—limit two.) We discovered we still have several gallons of water we stored for Y2K. The fresh part of fresh drinking water may have diminished. Some things are just not adequate—but we do what we can. I can assure you that…

GOD KNOWS SCIENCE.

Inviting Him into our journey doesn’t release us from responsibility or dismiss the role of health care workers and scientists.

We are praying against the virus, praying for all the scientists and praying for government leaders.

The root word for corona is the same from which we get “crown.” That might suggest there is a spiritual component. Fear is satan’s prime tool and seeks to make it our response or knee jerk reaction. So we pray against such a reaction. God is not the author of chaos or confusion. Life, not death, is His thing.

Stephen Mansfield issued his “Seven Thoughts On The Crisis.” Number seven is “Utilize your community.” That is a stark concern. Isolation and social distancing are key actions in fighting this virus. However, isolation by itself will cause serious health—physical and mental—problems. “Staying in touch” is foreboding, forbidden and healthy. The wise closing of churches is also removing our support systems. After cleaning your devices, use them to stay in touch and to hear God’s message.

I have a benediction to my children and grandchildren when they leave our house or sign off an email: “Lock your doors, use your seatbelts and don’t sleep in the subway—and have fun.”

Now to the serious stuff. Spring training has been cancelled, March Madness has been cancelled. No sports on TV. Is this the beginning of the Great Tribulation?

Be safe, be careful, be blessed.

Psalm 91

Dean

Gnarly

“This is a brutal and gnarly time to be a human.”

John Eldredge

We have a small birdhouse that served as home to a small, loud singing bird for a couple of years. He/she found better digs last year. The lease was picked up by sparrows. During the winter, a sparrow built a nest in the tiny house.

Several days ago, three grackles visited our yard and feeders. One perched on the front rail of the little bird house, looked inside and began tearing the nest out. The resident sparrow sat on top of the house and watched, but largely outsized he did nothing but pace. The grackle tried to get in, but was too large. I wondered if there were chicks, but this is not nesting time. Finally the home wrecker seemed satisfied and flew away and hasn’t been back.

Yesterday, the sparrow was sitting on the corner of the railing and obviously grieving, mourning—head hanging. I don’t always know what birds are thinking, but discernment of spirits was not necessary. That bird was hurting and discouraged. After a bit, she or he climbed into the house. Within a few seconds, another sparrow entered the birdhouse.

I don’t know what was going on inside. The couple may have finally gotten a room. But it was like discernment—I sensed that second bird just went in to be company for a grieving flock member. Or to help straighten up the place. It all happened in a few seconds. I don’t want you to think I’ve slid into bird-brain-ness. It sure was a Kingdom moment, for Carole and me.

An adult friend has recently received racial harassment. I had to question what “race” he is. He really is one of us. His skin is beautifully brown. I had never thought about that—he’s part of our extended family. I don’t know how to help him resettle his house.

These really are gnarly days to be a human—harder yet to live out Kingdom humanness. Even the best-intentioned words can sound trite or undo-able.

The coronavirus is a challenge. A preacher said that “corona” comes from the root word we also get “crown.” He seemed to know what he was talking about. (?) That pastor thinks it is a demonic agent to grab power and attention. How do we respond and react Kingdom-ly? Pray and wash our hands? Keep your hands off your face! Good advice and a tools to avoid illness.

I read that on average we touch our faces 23 times an hour. I can’t think without my left hand holding my head up. When I fret, I prop up my forehead with all my fingers. As I pause between these paragraphs I hold two fingers against my face. President Trump said he hadn’t put his hand on his face for a month—“…and I miss it.” A simple directive. Have you tried?

Paying attention for the drooping head is a Kingdom act. Eldredge says given the brutal time in which we live, “Feasting and celebrating are acts of spiritual warfare.” The mean birds—whether human or fowl—are about tearing things down. God’s Kingdom is about empowering, encouraging and building up. All possible when you sit with someone whose life is in shambles or headed that direction.

Kingdom living is the primary focus. I’m reading “The Gospel of Jesus as Simon Peter told to Mark.” I’m also focusing on Psalm One and asking what does it mean for me in a brutal, gnarly world?

“…Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come, The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news, (Mark 1:14b-15).

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

Modern

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) author, humorist, lay-theologian and futurist.  H.G. Wells told Chesterton’s widow that his only chance of going to Heaven was that he (Wells) was a friend of Chesterton.

From his classic book “Orthodoxy

“Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin—a fact as practical as potatoes. Whether or not man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not mere materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputed water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.”

I’m amused by his frequent use of the word “modern.” At the end of the 19th Century! Moderns at the turn of the century—pick any one right after the most recent—are about disputing all that has preceded them and inserting their own wise suggestions.

“And the moral of the story is…”

“Son, how did the day with the substitute teacher go?”

“I liked her stories because they had no morals.”

There is no moral to this story. Well…other than to ask who the “modernists” of 2020 are and if they lead to inevitable ends like, “For the earth to survive, humans must become extinct.”

For a further look into the Jesus Follower named G. K. Chesterton

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=GK+Chesterton&view=detail&mid=557FB4F241F57EAAB4C4557FB4F241F57EAAB4C4&FORM=VIRE

©2020 D. Dean Benton—writer-wonderer-witness

(Hannah, you are right.)

Wondering

wondering:

Did John the Baptist wear his clothes of camel hair into the river to baptize people? Did the crowd complain about the lingering smell of a camel-sized wet dog?

wondering about my decision:

Sitting in chiropractor’s waiting room. Waiting rooms are where armies of germs hang. I had determined not to pick up a magazine. Who knows who has been flipping pages with diseased fingers. Two kids, ages 6-8, enter. Overactive is a good word. Climbing on chairs. The girl announces that her younger brother never showers. He responds with nasty words that young siblings enjoy using. I started it all with my, “Hi guys. How’s it going?” The girl came to sit next to me and engage me in conversation. She reminded me that she and I are alike—“We both have to wear glasses.” Then she picks up a magazine and offers it to me. Moral dilemma! I told her my glasses were dirty and I wouldn’t be able to read well. She tutored me on glasses hygiene.

The lady said, “Dean, room 2.” I excused myself and the girl held up her hand—to give me a high five. Hard choice! Dilemma! Dilemma! My priority was to affirm those kids, especially the kid who selected me to be her friend. I looked at her hand and saw (gift of discernment) exactly 11 million germs wanting to get on me. I used a diversionary move. Wondering if I should have sacrificed my health and touched her hand? I still don’t know, but I sure don’t feel good about my decision.

seeing and wondering:

Looking into the deeply gray day, I recall a southern writer saying, “The problem with Yankees is cloud cover. Anyone going that long without seeing the sun undoubtedly needs a front-end alignment.”

wondering and hearing:

The man Jesus healed in John 5:1-15 had been an invalid for 38 years. When Jesus healed the man, the Greek word therapeia is used. Heal—therapeia—the foundational word for “therapy.” Teacher Rick Remmer says this is the Greek word used 90% of the time to describe Jesus’ healings. He also says that therapy suggests cooperation with the therapist is required. That is why Jesus said things like, “Stretch forth your hand.” “Get up and get going.” The result is healing—cooperating with the healing and healer which is the act of faith.

Remmer says the enlarged meaning of the word “whole” means he got his life back. “Do you want to be whole?—Do you want to get well?” “Do you want your life back?”

I’m wondering how old the man was. Was he 38? Had he been an invalid all his life? Or, did he remember when he could walk and care for himself? Was he an invalid resulting from a work-related injury? If he was an invalid from birth, getting his life back meant he would only be a younger version of his dependence on others. Jesus was offering the life/purpose God originally planned.

I’m wondering if the invalid saw himself as invalid?

I’m wondering where I can find a front-end alignment.

©2020 D. Dean Benton   Wonderer, Writer, Witness

TRUST

The Pew Forum which tracks culture and social trends in the USA sought to find who and what Institutions do Americans trust. Who Do We Trust? July 2019 they published their research. Americans trust…

Author & speaker Stephen Mansfield reported this to ask if there is a crisis or an extremely close election, who or what institution will provide leadership? Who would the American People trust to provide answers and solutions?

At the center of any Democratic Republic is the ballot box. Peaceful transition following a free election sets our Republic apart from the non-free nations and governments.

Congressman Adam Schiff said that unless Congress removes Donald Trump Americans cannot trust the outcome of the 2020 election.

Scientists…83% of Americans trust scientists most.

Military           …. 80% (+/-)

Clergy                  61%

Journalists       .…55%

Business leaders…43%

Supreme Court     38%

Politicians…       36%

Newsman, journalist Bret Brier asks,

“So does this mean voters should never trust the vote anymore? They can only trust lawmakers to decide when a President crosses the line to get kicked out—& What qualifies to kick out that President? And only those lawmakers can do it? Not voters? Ever?”

Who do we trust? Who do you trust? Which of the institutions can we trust to provide wise leadership? Socialism/Communism says the government only. Democratic Republic says,

THE PEOPLE!

In every society there are 7 Spheres of Influence:

  1. Family (household and social sphere)
  2. Religion (including church sphere and spirituality)
  3. Education (k-12 and universities?)
  4. Economy (business+finance/science and technology)
  5. Politics (government sphere—all three branches of government)
  6. Media
  7. Celebration (arts+culture/entertainment/sports)

If you do not see them in that list, you will need to place the military and medicine.

If The People do not trust any of our institutions—the institutions that speak for us through representation—to whom do we turn for public leadership we trust?

If I were conspiratorial I would wonder if there is a planned attack going on. (Re: Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis) First destroy faith in institutions and then sow doubt as to the worth or the trustworthiness of voting–bomb the ballot box.

Friends will say, Trust in God. I do—that is where my primary trust is placed. But God has placed us on the Earth and made us stewards, given us dominion. That means God’s Kingdom People are to be influencers (not controllers) through our individual voices and institutions.

Rebuild The Trust

Reference: Who Do We Trust, Stephen Mansfield, Stephen Mansfield Podcast.

©2020 D. Dean Benton—I am Dean. I take responsibility for this message.

 

RECEIVE & STEWARD YOUR FUTURE–2

My preceding blog, Receive and Steward Your Future, needs clarity. A man in a seminar thought I was talking about profit when I talked about prophet. He thought the seminar was about investing in the market. No, it is prophet—an integral part of Jesus’ Kingdom. Segments of the Church understand and organize leadership around the 5-Fold Ministry which comes from Ephesians 4:12-13:

The purpose of the five-fold ministry is, “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Apostle Paul says God has blessed the church with Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers. Most scholars tend to list the last two in this list as “pastor-teacher.” They recognize that they are separate offices, but connected. Pastors teach, but not all teachers, pastor.

Two kinds of prophets: one foretells what is going to happen. The second forth-tells. Much like a mentor or a very good coach. There is more to say about this, but I’m centering on the forth-tellers who ask questions and make observation such as, “Have you ever thought about being an accountant?” Or, “I see in you a gift for teaching 4th-graders. Does that resonate with you?”

“You can speak in tongues, but I want all of you to prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14.)

A prime example is found in Princess Diana. Minutes after I posted the first blog in this 2-parter, Carole and I watched NBC’s Ann Curry moderate and interview several people close to Princess Dianna.

https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/princess-diana-remembered-1037081155672/

There is no doubt that the negative “prophets” in Diana’s childhood and then in her marriage are linked to a horrible life. She was called “thick” by her family. She was Abandoned, Abused, Forsaken by her husband and Betrayed. Notice in the videos  heavy bangs over her forehead and eyes behind which she appears to hide. It was not until a speech mentor volunteered to help her learn how to speak in public that she heard a “prophet” speak positive descriptions and words into her in a way she grasped. Notice her hairstyle and lifted chin, thereafter. Few people will deny for any of us that such negative appraisals will damage us long term. I’m talking about intentional speaking our “future” into us–not palaver, but real assets not immediately visible to us.

You do not need credentials to speak into someone’s life. I don’t know if that speech coach is a Jesus follower, or if he is filled with the Spirit. He is a human speaking into another human. (The limits of this needs more thought.)

We are at the big question: What if no one “speaks into you?” What if you have no neighborhood prophet who invests into your future?

Esther Fleece Allen was a fast-rising leader with Focus on the Family. She had been adopted as a child, abandoned by her father. Twenty-years after that total abandonment he reappeared unannounced and began to stalk her. She collapsed under her early life abuse and the negative input as an adult. I don’t remember hearing about any earth-moving encounter for her. She found healing and guidance through Scripture and interaction with God The Father.

Type Catalyst Podcast 540 Esther Fleece Allen into your computer search engine for the interview.

I’m thinking that most Jesus Followers are best served in finding our next season. Prophesying a legitimate encouraging or instructive word is not an attempt to control. I think it is an important Kingdom function.

Author and marketing guru, Donald Miller, asked Carol Aebersold, creator of “Elf on the Shelf,” if she felt this was her calling. She replied, “For this season of my life, it is.”

For This Season, It Is

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

Receive and Steward Your Future

An International preacher/teacher received a vision which he shared with his partners. A leader, pastor and close friend affirmed the message:

“This is your future

This is your vision

This is your assignment”

The words of that friend dovetails with “God speaking a word into you” or a person speaking a word “over you.” The agent is often someone with authority (to you) who affirms what God has already highlighted in your heart or mind. It may be someone saying or intentionally “speaking” something to you that you’ve hardly given a thought, but something is sparked or ignited in you.

You know that a negative word spoken over or into someone is crippling. A prophet (Office of prophet or an informal statement) can underscore or empower people onto a Kingdom trajectory.

When Apostle Paul says, “I wish that you would all prophesy,” (I Corinthians 14:5), he is not hoping that every person would predict the future, but Jesus followers would speak or affirm a person’s future.

I have spoken words like that to many and absolutely always want to do it more. I only remember saying prophetic words in a public event once. I stopped preaching and spoke over a friend. He has been in trouble with the law and in relationships ever since. I don’t regret speaking. But I could have gotten it wrong. That raises an important element in this discussion: receiving and stewardship. The first step is for the person hearing the statement to consider if the Holy Spirit is saying the same thing to him or her. What are others saying? (Be careful here. It is your vision.)

Pastor Bill Johnston says:

“…being prepared to receive and steward the fulfillment of our promises.”  

From a digital employment application: “You must sign this document to officially accept our offer.”

The two words “receive and steward” lit up centers of my brain and soul in a manner that had not been before. “I accept that, I receive that!” Stewarding is personal preparation to cooperate with God’s plan. It is your future, your vision, your assignment. If so, what must you do to prepare? Luck most often comes to those who are prepared.

One of his peers spoke to him about an issue Johnson had been seeking God to clarify. Johnson tells us how he responded:

“I took that word, wrote it down, and began to declare it over my life regularly.”

Page 144 Strengthen Yourself in the Lord, Destiny Image Press 2007)

Johnson was faithful in pursuing that prophetic word for ten years. It is fully operational today.

Receiving and stewarding:

“So how do we steward what’s been given to us? We use the tools we’ve been given to contend for the promises and desires that God has birthed in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” (Johnson)

Perhaps, the man over whom I spoke, didn’t receive the message, did not pursue the message or did not contend with negative human voices or with the devil who stole, killed, destroyed (John 10:10).

Lots of in-house language in this post. I will clarify and talk more to your questions.

Consider, Discern, Receive, Steward, Contend, Declare.

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

2020–Ready?

New Year’s Eve 2019

Listening to a John Eldredge podcast. He says don’t take the Christmas décor down, listen to Christmas music until Epiphany January 6. His message is don’t rush from Christmas to New Year’s. (“Well! We got that done and survived! Next?”) Then the question: What are you going to do for soul-care during the days in between? What am I going to do? It’s New Year’s Eve! I’m behind already!

The anticipation stirs some dread and uneasiness. We better get this year right or Western Civilization is in the dumpster. The November, 2020 day looms like a tornado siren that is stuck on “Take Cover, now!”

Carole does a tasteful job decorating.  I like it.  I woke up this morning expecting the tree to be packed away for another year. (You do know that if I get up in the night to go to the bathroom, she jumps up and makes the bed.) So when I told her that Eldredge suggested décor and carols should remain she smiled—“Well that’s not going to happen!”

The Ransomed Heart leadership uses these days to ask God what message He has for the New Year. What word? What theme? What Scripture or phrase? Having heard God direct, they pray into that revelation or guidance and adjust soul-care into His direction.

What his team has to say feels like a solid message. Preparing for 2020 seems important. Like…

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you (Psalm 32:8).

The link will take you to the podcast I referenced:

https://www.ransomedheart.com/rhplay/podcast/between-times

 

©2019 D. Dean Benton   I wonder as I wander

Potpourri @ Rats, Elves,Guerrilla MBA

Want to know how to get a rat addicted to cocaine? Dr. Jordan Peterson knows. He says rats are family oriented and have assignments to fulfill. One of Peterson’s peers says rats play with their siblings and will laugh. She found the rat would laugh when she tickled him/her on the belly with a pencil armed with a green eraser. The laughter is discernable when the recorded interaction is slowed a bit.

Rats are too busy and occupied to mess with drugs unless they are isolated from their pack, swarm or the official name for a rat group—Mischief.

Dr. Peterson sees news for humans in that rodent’s experience and warning.

Are you acquainted with “Elf on the Shelf”? Chanda Bell is the primary creator of the book and with her husband, mother, sister and brother built a huge business. If you are an entrepreneur, have family members interested in business, a podcast from Donald Miller Storybrand is inspirational and helpful at an MBA level wrapped in laughter:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/179-chanda-bell-believing-in-the-magic-of-your-mission/id1092751338?i=1000459734249

The capsule of Ms. Bell’s mission and how the family went from zero expertise to…

When Chanda Bell’s family sold 5,000 units of the “Elf on the Shelf” book and doll in its first season in 2005, they knew they were onto something. With 11 million elves now in homes around the world, they were right. But that success didn’t happen overnight. Hear on the podcast how this family bootstrapped their beloved family tradition into a cultural phenomenon without the help of publishers and corporations — and what we can learn from their enduring success and unique company culture. If Chanda and her family can do this with a fictional story, imagine what you can do with yours. Listen now!

Rats, elves, family rituals have been part of soul poking related to purpose and calling. I’m working on “Seizin’ the Season” again. Using Psalm 37 as biblical base with Ruth and Naomi as guest personalities.

Thought you would want to know.

©2019  D. Dean Benton      Writer and Wonderer