Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Gleam across the way

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2 NIV).

This is a Messianic prophecy. “Deep darkness” refers to death and its fears.

That verse grabbed me when I read it on the church sign. Not exactly “grabbed” me, it was like it slid off the sign and slipped into my soul. It still is vibrating there.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, did God say, “Check. Done!” My response to Isaiah 9:2 yesterday was that our world—today—is floundering in darkness. Even reveling/celebrating in darkness. The workers of darkness are busy. If living in the light means clarity, I’m not there. I need to turn the fog lights on.

Driving the 4-5 blocks on the street where the church sign is, (where my wife always says, “You better slow down!”) I was flooded with, “Jesus, you are the great light. What catalyst during Christmastide 2020 will cause those walking in darkness to see a great light and experience the dawning light?”

I sense we are moving toward a Kingdom mindset. If Isaiah 9:2 is important to our day, the rest of that paragraph is also.

Isaiah 9:2-7–Message  

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—light! sunbursts of light!

You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy.

Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy!

The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.

The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants—all their whips and cudgels and curses—

Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.

The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,

Will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days!

For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us!  

He’ll take over the running of the world.

His names will be: Amazing Counselor,

Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.

His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.

He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom.

He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going

With fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always.

The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.

It’s a ponder: Am I a Lower Light?

© 2020 D. Dean Benton

Fighting For Connection

I took Leonard Sweet’s book, The Gospel According to Starbucks, (WaterBrook, 2007) with me on a business road trip. The subtitle is, “Living with a Grande Passion.” This is my third time through this book. It is that rich. Sweet loves coffee and has lots of stories. He likes Southern Gospel Music and knows the pioneers. He loves Jesus Gospel and is a preaching instructor and theologian. Eclectic! I’ve gone into extra words here, because he is a fine writer. If you are a writer, speaker or any kind of wordsmith, you would like Sweet’s writing. His book, A Cup of Coffee at the Soul Café (Broadman & Holman, 1998) is one of the most beautifully designed books I’ve seen. In the Starbucks book Sweet says,

“Coffee brings people together. That’s why we don’t have an idiom in the English language along the lines of, ‘Let’s stay apart for coffee.’ It’s always, ‘Let’s get together for coffee.’”

My favorite coffee shop is in that city where I took Carole and the book. It is an independent shop that is also an eatery. I take my laptop and briefcase and hunker in. I gather energy from the customers and staff. The rafters are open beams one of which is broken—split—which is repaired by a steel plate and large bolts. I look forward to the good coffee, comfort and atmosphere. This would be only the second or third time since March to sit in a coffee shop. I had to go back to the car to retrieve my mask which reminded me we live in a different world than we were in the last time I drank their brew.

The coffee shop was no longer welcoming. People sitting around tables slipped their masks off to sip on their coffee as if it was illegitimate or forbidden—don’t get caught. I ordered my drink to go and sat in the car warmed by solar energy to read and think—and feel very sad and lonely—in spite of the luscious flavored coffee.

Ray Oldenburg coined the phrase and concept of “Your third place.” Home, work, and a third place. For some the third place is a bar, pub, tavern, bowling alley. I think ballparks can fill that slot. The church used to be the major third place for many people. Coffee shops took over that place for our kids and grandkids. Starbucks led the way.

The most accurate 2020 Christmas Song is, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Third places are almost outlawed—certainly a target. The first two places: home and work are under scrutiny and depending on your level of conspiracy hunting, home and work parameters are being dictated by Big Brother. It is not conspiratorial to believe that connections are essential to health.

The loudest word I heard in the past 24 hours is that we must fight for personal connections. I’m not calling for civil disobedience or suggesting we open churches, although when I slouch into conspiracy thinking, I see how keeping churches closed is damaging to the individual and the community.

My cousin left a note for her husband. He read it, “Going to Dairy Queen for a bite.” When she hadn’t arrived for supper, he assumed the worst. She called him—the note she wrote said, “Going to Bowling Green for the nite.” (Bowling Green is where her daughter lived.)

Connections in 2020 require clear communication and plenty of it. “…fight for personal connections” may not have come from God, but it sounds like something He would say.  Now, Holy Spirit shall give us instructions and strategies how to do that. I don’t know what number law it is: “All things in motion tend toward entropy.” That is true for relationships—even marriage. The New Testament relationship motion is always energized toward.

Mental health and Kingdom life-flow is affected as isolation moves from community interaction to lockdown and then individual isolation and shutting down. Connection is worth fight for—essential.

“Forget Cheers (“where everybody knows your name”) Remember Starbucks (“Where everybody wants to know your soul”). (Leonard Sweet)

That is not my coffee shop experience, but we need someplace where some tribe offers that level of connection.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Living the EPIC adventure: Experience, Participation, Image-rich and Connecting.

God of Green Hope

It may be the Monday Kingdom verse:

“…may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

John Eldredge, in Wild at Heart podcast today, says that hope is being assaulted. I have no final word if that is conspiratorial. It is the natural outcome of what we are living in and through. My Message Bible was open to Romans 15 which seemed like a “in the mouth of 2-3 witnesses.”  The times call for spiritual/supernatural hope.

“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”

So that your believing lives. Is the “I” in lives long or short? Hopelessness is more pervasive than the virus. It has grasped the hand of helplessness and is producing not only locked-down cities, but locked-down people. So, how to keep a believing life alive?

I was sorting through boxes of books I stored in our garage some years ago. I found notebooks of sermons. The best part of my sermons are stories and quotations. I glanced through a couple and found two quotes from kids I talked to in concerts. I asked a child if the girl sitting next to her was her sister. She looked at the girl, looked thoughtfully at me and replied, “No. I’m the sister.” Another child asked me, “What is the name of your best friend?”

There you have it—at least part of it. 1. Keep your relationships straight—not pecking order, but how you are related and how you relate. 2. Know who your friends are and how you benefit and are beneficial to those people. One of my friends posted this morning,

“…we are walking each other home.”

The Message Bible is a translation, not a paraphrase. Peterson found something “growing” in God-hope that he named it green hope. It is on the grow. Romans 15:13 turns hope on its head. The saying is, “As long as you have hope….” This verse says when God fills us with joy and peace, hope will be the outcome. Hope becomes systemic when we open ourselves to joy and peace—gifts from the Father.

Chaos and darkness. Hell has loosed highly skilled demons, principalities and powers. The fresh appearance of The Christ is needed and our opening to His joy and peace. America has social-distanced itself from Christ too long.

Carole and I decided not to decorate for Christmas. Maybe hang a picture of a Christmas tree next to a crackling fireplace on TV. Several days into the pledge, Carole has hung lights on railings, trees and windows. There is a large vase in the bay window filled with strings of white lights. And a tree in the kitchen. She is fighting back against the darkness. Joy and peace can be weaponized.

Eggnog and holly—no mistletoe this year. We need a fresh awakening to His presence.

“We Need a Little Christmas”–

If you have not read my ebook, HopePushers-intent on delivery, you can download it from 

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Nominated for Nobility

“Whatever is noble…think on these things…” (Philippians 4:8).

I’ve been searching for noble things and noble people. Can a potato peeler be noble? Maybe. I’m tentative venturing that only people can be noble and we are to look for nobility in normal workday activities. Paul probably was saying, “Take a look at what is stressing you into eating an entire pumpkin pie at one sitting—alone—can you find anything noble in the stressor? Who are the nobility in your world today?

The first English settlement on the continent that I know about was Jamestown in Virginia. We are introduced to Pocahontas in Jamestown. The chaplain of that company was The Rev. Robert Hunt. Upon landing in 1607, he consecrated the new land to the glory of God and declared the purpose for the journey and the purpose of the colony being established:

“Raising his hands to heaven, Rev. Robert Hunt claimed the land for country and king and consecrated the continent to the glory of God. In covenantal language he declared, ‘…from these very shores the Gospel shall go forth to not only this New World, but the entire world.’”


As I remember, The Tallest Poppy was a phrase I first heard during the Vietnam era. Marxism/Socialism utilized that practice by killing all those whose achievements and status pushed them into leadership positions. There is another application in the media and digital world:

Tall Poppy Syndrome, a term that was popularized in Australia, occurs when people are attacked, resented, disliked, criticized or cut down because of their achievements and/or success.

Using Bill O’Reilly’s literature device—Killing Nobility—is seen in statue destruction and rewriting history and in the Jezebel spirit seeks to destroy leadership that opposes the acceptable think and speak.

In my search for nobility, I have decided the prize goes to school teachers, parents who are trying to be teachers during the lockdowns and the students. Those who will thrive from this time and challenge are the self-starters and students who push themselves to be self-reliant. “Self-governed.” Seems to me there are several kinds of self-reliant students. Those who are born with that trait, those whose parents and teachers ignited them and those like John Adams who had no preconditions for nobility,  became self-motivated. Our nation has several Rebar in our foundation, none more essential than self-governing. I propose closing schools is not helpful in building self-governing strengths. I doubt that Netflix is a strong teacher of self-reliance or governing. (Maybe, sometimes.)

You hear about the father who said to his kids, “What are you doing? I didn’t spend big bucks on Netflix so you could sit there and read!”

John Eldredge—Wild at Heart podcast—“School During Pandemic” is helpful to grasp why teachers, parents attempting to teach and self-reliant students get my vote for nobility.

Think on these things

Sorry, teachers. There no medals or plaques with this prize except those wrapped in skin with names and stories.

©2020 D. Dean Benton


We had Thanksgiving left-overs for supper last evening. Mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, stuffing (interpret as a verb), sweet potatoes, turkey, everything except cranberries. It was as good as Thanksgiving dinner. After 3-4 bites, I slid my fork for a bite of potatoes, stuffing and gravy, when loneliness, nostalgia or something poured over me like a heavy breeze.

Two or three years ago, Carole was trying to figure out how we could expand our table to accommodate the crowd. We discussed adding on a room or moving the table into the living room. Last time I did remodeling just before a holiday with guests didn’t work out so well, so we abandoned tearing out a wall. Just as well. In 2020 the three of us would have felt like being a party of six in a sanctuary built for 2500. But probably no jail time.

I do not know what that “breeze” was about, but it was strong. I remember I was dragging the fork to the left to load it. Vivid! As much as I like the food, it is secondary to the table talk and interaction.

  1. “What are you doing? Building? Writing? Work? Dreaming?”
  2. “What are you thinking?”
  3. “What are you reading?”
  4. “Who are you listening to?”
  5. “What music is on your playlist?”
  6. “Met anyone interesting, lately?”
  7. “What is Jesus saying to you?”
  8. “Funny things you’ve heard?”

(Example:  Friends in Nashville stopped at McDonalds and ordered two decaf coffees with cream in one. The lady taking the order asked, “Cream?…in which one?”)

Stories need a group. The three of us talked, shared good conversation and some laughter and praise. But no one interrupted and it was not raucous. Blue Zones headline—

“Even if You’re Arguing, Eating Together Can Help Your Family Eat Healthier”

We three couldn’t even start a good argument. We might have gotten by with a Cornish hen.

One of my favorite counselors talked about the importance of traditions and the loss extent when there are none or they are neglected. Like, who carves the bird? I missed brewing flavored coffee after dinner.

Coffee. Maybe I missed Grandpa Benton who on holidays sat in the chair with arms. Grandma sat in the chair with no arms to slow her on the way to the kitchen. After Uncle loosened his belt, Grandma would bring the coffee pot. Grandpa Harry would pore his coffee from the cup into the saucer and blow cool it which always strained the sensitivities of Grandma Edith. Anyway that was the traditional exchange between them.

I was blessed by being at table with two tribe members. But, it was different and some room in my soul reacted to the loss. I pray this is not our new normal. I’m not in the mood to test drive any new minimalist traditions.

Advent starts tomorrow. Someone said, “Advent is not something we celebrate, it something we keep.”

I’m still picking the meat off the bones of Thanksgiving.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Sounds Like a Plan

It is easy to find a conspiracy even in a cotton ball. I’m wondering if  shutting Thanksgiving down has global implication. Probably not. If someone could pull it off, it would have spiritual and mental health negative impact. Gratitude is an essential expression.

Thanksgiving has not been “shut down.” Turkey Day has been limited.

Listening to a singer telling a story of God’s provision for his growing up family, I realized what I want Thanksgiving to be: a testimony meeting as people share God’s provision that stimulates us to sing thanks, lift praise, worship and express joy. Thanksgiving 20/20—repeating 2 Chronicles 20:20—singing in the high-priced section.

Encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4).

Thanksgiving 2020 needs to be a mental-health, self-care day by hearing the exploits of God in lives of people who have a place at our inner table. Zoom, Face-time, Skype, Facebook, Parlor. No masks required on email. Yet.

“When the days are dreary and the long nights weary, I know that Jesus cares.”

Happy Thanks Giving

Benton—Dean & Carole

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Know what’s going on in your body this moment?

“Cells are amazing things: there are about one hundred trillion of them in our bodies, each so small that several thousand would fit on the period at the end of this sentence.”

Those words from an incredible story of a woman who influences medical knowledge and research. I continue to quote:

“Under a microscope, a cell looks like a fried egg: It has a white (the cytoplasm) that’s full of water and proteins to keep it fed, and a yolk (the nucleus) that holds all the genetic information that makes you you. The cytoplasm buzzes like a New York City street. It’s crammed full of molecules and vessels endlessly shuttling enzymes and sugars from one part of the cell to another, pumping water, nutrients and oxygen in and out of the cell. All the while, little cytoplasmic factories work 24/7, cranking out sugars, fats, proteins and energy to keep the whole thing running and feed the nucleus—the brains of the operation. Inside every nucleus within each cell in your body, there’s an identical copy of your entire genome. That genome tells cells when to grow and divide and makes sure they do their jobs, whether that’s controlling your heartbeat or helping your brain understand the words on this page.

“…mitosis—the process of cell division—makes it possible for embryos to grow into babies, and for our bodies to create new cells for healing wounds or replenishing blood we’ve lost. …like a perfectly choreographed dance”

From The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot, (©2010 Broadway Books.)

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:14).

Cells—thousands of them at this moment active in your body—can sit on this period .

©2020 D. Dean Benton—amazed and praising God. WOW!

Lovely is Essential

If you haven’t yet decided that Apostle Paul was/is a fine psychologist you might want to consider it. He said if you want God’s presence and God’s peace, then think on—whatever things are lovely.

If the words from Philippians came from God to build a place for His presence and peace to dwell, I want to have confidence that I can take Him at His word, and He said it to Paul and He means it for you and me.

From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:

Lovely (Strong’s 4375) (prosphile is a relationship word derived from pros= towards + philes = friend) refers to that conduct which is dear to someone. Lovable, endearing, amiable, gracious, charming, pleasing, winsome.

“It is conduct which is pleasing in its motive and actions towards others. Lovely has the idea of that which is admirable or agreeable to behold or consider.”

“Whatever is lovely and loveable, think on these things…” (Amplified Bible).

After reading that today was the “lovely” day, I was surrounded by gray and bleak. When was the last time some  thing appeared lovely to me? Ugly dominates airwaves, many secular songs and news reports. I really did not want to go into the market place today. Our governor didn’t call an absolute lockdown, so I had to go. What is lovely out there?

An encounter with a challenged acquaintance pushed me to ask myself, what do I parrot? What influence fine-tunes my brain?

A few days ago, I decided I will not give access to my brain, or my attempt at civility, to anyone who uses the F-word or MFer word, makes fun of, puts down, or ridicules people. Gone! How can I think on lovely things when ugliness, vulgarity and stupidity—things that make no sense—sit at the door like a cat waiting to rush in? A boundary says I can’t, nor I desire to, tell you what to think or say or do. I will say you (generic term) can’t say or do those things in my presence. The boundary has been established.

There is a stretch of Interstate—I think it is between Emporia and Kansas City or Wichita and Emporia. Inexplicably it has shown up in my mind often in recent weeks. We have driven that stretch at sunrise, sunset, midnight. Best going north late afternoon. It is lovely. Rolling hills with vast colors and crops. The very thought makes me smile and mutter a pleasant word.

Another video runs in my head. It is a customized vehicle with the hood open. Chrome bonnet and clean engine. Some of my friends, more educated about cars than I, see beauty in that vehicle. It is more than the grease is gone, it is about the work and expertise that went into making that car or pickup awesome. Lovely. Some buildings, some living rooms, porches are lovely. Some peach cobblers and pumpkin scones are lovely and delicious.

I didn’t find much lovely out there, today. Obviously, it could have been there. Given my mindset I missed it. Everything is a threat. Covid hides behind every breath and on every surface. People are afraid and defensive—protecting themselves against every possibility. I don’t know if I can trust newscasters or opinionators that seemed “safe” in September. We are in an information war—winner takes all, changes the world. My world! The Constitution and our way of government may be at stake.

Lovely is an essential.

My day was rescued by a conversation between Donald Miller and Seth Godin about creativity. It was lovely—why? It motivated me, gave me substance to act on and brought light to the dark prospects. My soul took on a brighter hue. Tools. It gave reasons to recalibrate my thinking. The interaction revealed optimistic, hope-trending hearts.

Those are some things to think about that may present loveliness. Again, loveliness is about relationships and people we interpret as lovely and loveable. I’ve got a list.

Lovely is essential to keep the barbarians and beasts outside the fence. It cleanses the ugly and offers evidence that sewage has not flooded our world. Lovely–Like an essential oil in a diffuser.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Think Again

A little help here: “If there ever was a…,” or “If there ever were a…”?

Today “…think on these things…whatever things are true.” Decide what is true and then ask five people if they agree.

Andy Andrews’ tag line for his podcast is something like, “We go past true all the way to Truth.” Solomon attempted to give us one-liners of true in Proverbs. I’m not asking you about Truth, I’m asking what you believe to be true. If you are looking for “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” don’t expect it from headline writers. Headlines tend to be nothing but click bait.

If the hoped for end result of your thinking is God’s presence and God’s peace (Philippians 4) “true” must be determined—maybe not the whole truth, but just true.

Do you know the story of the Sunday school boy who answered his teacher, “The real answer is ‘squirrel,’ but you want me to say ‘Jesus.’” Attempting to avoid those kinds of questions, I want to say that Jesus’ Truth influences-defines all things true. What will you decide today is true about the election? Will that produce peace in your mind-emotions-actions?

While Truth is not up for debate, all things true can be pretty subjective. For Christians, nothing can be true that contradicts Jesus Truth. Jesus Truth is not about banana cream pie in the freezer. It is about how that Truth shepherds us through our time on earth. Earth true is important—Jesus insists we seek eternal Truth—that which rust, dust, moth, inflation or headlines can change and to know what is true and act accordingly.

I’m pondering today if Jesus would apply this equation: If following your selection of true produces God’s presence and God’s peace then think on it. If it produces different fruit, then think again.

Moving plants from the lawn to my office is done. About 10 days ago. Part of true about my favorite plant is that it wants to be in a window and it will grow toward the light. Several shoots have grown about an inch per day as it reaches for light. A manifestation of true.

©2020 D. Dean Benton

Pondering Beyond 11-3-20

There is life beyond the election. It is not going to be, however, like it used to be. Post-election and post-Covid is yet to be determined. The visionaries, futurists (Bible calls them prophets) and the people committed to work (see Nehemiah) will determine.

The Church of Jesus Christ has sought to “turn from our wicked ways.” I’m concerned that in that heavy-duty pursuit we may have concluded we will never repent enough or find the one sin we forgot and therefore disqualify us from God’s healing. God’s mercy outweighs the demands of earthly gods who can never be assuaged or convinced. The Founding Fathers were not saying in the Declaration or Constitution that they were a perfect, sinless group we were to emulate. They sat before us America’s permanent goals and pursuit—“with liberty & justice for all.

Lou Engel tells this story about William Wilberforce. Wilberforce worked legislatively for decades to abolish slavery in Great Britain. Several years before he won the battle, he lacked four votes in Parliament to pass the bill to abolish. The four politicians chose to not vote and went to an opera instead.

Wilberforce observed how four votes would have made the difference in many deaths, suffering and subjugation.

“I hope you enjoyed the opera.”

I’ve been wondering how to nurture myself in the days when there are no phone calls from the DNC or RNC and no polls. I’m going to miss the slick political ads filling my mail box. (Really gonna miss those people!)

I was putting newly released books on the shelf. I usually ask people who have their phone in hand and a list if there is something I can help them find. Which makes my wife laugh because I can’t find anything in the fridge that is not on the front of the shelf.

“No, I’m just looking.” She said and then picked up a specific book with the word “Disloyalty” in the title. She said something that spurred me to say, “I think disloyalty is the darkest of words….” She accusingly responded, “You’re not a Republican, are you?” For a moment I felt the heat of a fire in a court yard. I laughed and said, “I think of myself as an Independent…a little right of center.” She said, “Thank God!”

I got the feeling from this well-dressed and well-educated lady’s words, and the way she looked at me, that I could have said, “No, but I am a rapist and I drown puppies,” and it would not have fazed her. Here she was in the book department praising God that at least, I’m not a Republican.

I am a Conservative a little right of center. I’m comfortable with a definition I’ve adapted:

“Holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change. I believe that certain things, attitudes and values are worth conserving and are the best base upon which to teach history while enabling people to think creatively and equipping to innovate.”

Ponderings. I do not think that Amy Coney Barrett was nominated primarily to take down Roe v Wade. She is not a one-issue justice. Sixty-million-plus babies dead is beyond ability to grasp. If Roe v Wade were to be overturned, we are left with what will take its place? A Supreme Court ruling will not change the minds of people who desire to exercise their “choice.” I certainly do not want the “back alley” scenario to return. Rather than “old normal” I look forward to a better way.

I think Trey Gowdy is a good example of a Conservative. He is passionate, a celebrator of truth and a welcomer of diverse discussion. His new book, Doesn’t Hurt to Ask, is about an open, honest, common sense life. I come away from his weekly podcasts having learned something and being challenged. “Tuesdays with Trey.” This week’s topic is “Flirting with Absurdity.” Last week he talked about Presidential debates: The people the candidates seek to serve deserve better. He has an interesting plan.

Dr. Lance Wallnau is a mentor, futurist and thinker. He is a conservative linked to contrarianism. He is a humorist who sounds like Jackie Mason, and communicates best with a white board within reach. I’ve been reading his new book, God’s Chaos Code. He helps me understand what our cultural upheaval is about. He was the first to identify Donald Trump as a Cyrus Leader (Isaiah 45), but his primary devotion is to God’s Kingdom and teaches about “discipling nations”—Jesus words. His is an important voice for our day.

Christians who seek to consider what a tomorrow America could look like will benefit by reading and talking about God’s Chaos Code. Paperback available from Amazon. The ideas need to be discussed in a small group as we consider post-Nov 3. The Left has a massively funded agenda. The Right has an agenda. God’s biblical Kingdom has an agenda which leans neither direction. The Kingdom’s agenda is righteousness.

I want another word without the baggage. I understand righteousness to be, “The manner of living that glorifies God. To live aligned with grace, mercy and Jesus’ Great Commandment to ‘love God and your neighbor as yourself.’ Both Old and New Testaments declare God’s design as ‘liberty and justice for all.’” Wallnau helps us personalize and globalize righteousness.

The opera is not worth the cost.

©2020 D. Dean Benton