Category Archives: Uncategorized

56 million

A well-known singer was approached by a cult member and asked to contribute money to Jesus. The singer said, “I’ll probably see him before you do. I’ll just give it to him myself.”

There is a push, once again for reparations to be paid to those held in slavery in the United States of the 19th Century? I think of that singer every time I hear the pitch for reparations. How do we get the money and/or other reparations to those who directly suffered the bonds of slavery? I also got a phone call telling me the warranty on my car has expired–I am approaching the capacity to care.

There is no way to talk about this without the probability of being misunderstood or charged with racism or hard-hearted. The logistical impossibility makes me question reparations reaching the right people.

If we are “taking an offering” or writing a check from the U.S. Treasury, I think Native Americans should have the dibs. No matter what we decide to do American Indians need a more righteous covenant with the white man.

Slavery is not just a Civil War issue. According to the State Department between 48 million and 56 million people are in slavery at this moment. Eighty percent are female and half of that number are children. Shouldn’t they have our current attention?

Half of the women rescued from sex traffickers voluntarily return to that life because there is no place for them. No agency to help them get established, no one to care for them.

The sex-traffickers make $150 Billion per year from their slaves. That is more than the top five U. S. corporations make in a year.

There is a market or there would be no sex-worker/slaves. Any ideas how to break that syndicate? How does Jesus want to deal with 21st Century slavery?

©D. Dean Benton     Writer, Wonderer, Weeper

A Birthday Remembered

Today is our youngest granddaughter’s birthday. Second year of college. I vividly remember the birth day.

Picked up the new book, Where The Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens (2019 Putnam). Speaking of birthdays:

“Kya said to herself, ‘I reckon I’m seven.’ Pa never mentioned it; certainly there was no cake.

“Surely Ma would come back for her birthday so…she put on the calico dress and stared down the lane. Kya willed Ma to be walking toward the shack, still in her alligator shoes and long skirt. When no one came, she got the pot of grits and walked through the woods to the seashore. Hands to her mouth, she held her head back and called, ‘Kee-ow, lee-ow, kee ow.” Specks of silver appeared in the sky from up and down the beach, from over the surf.

“‘Here they come. I can’t count as high as that many gulls are,’ she said.

“Crying and screeching, the birds swirled and dived, hovered near her face, and landed as she tossed grits to them. Finally they quieted and stood about preening, and she sat on the sand, her legs folded to the side. One large gull settled onto the sand near Kya.

“‘It’s my birthday,’ she told the bird.’” (Page 21)

I’m known at Starbucks as “The guy who stares off into space.” Dear God! That last line! I sat there staring into the past and into today and thanked God for all the people that our grandes have to celebrate them and tell Rachel, Davis, Hannah, how glad they are that she, he, she were born.

©2019 D. Dean Benton      Writer, Wonderer, Gleeful grandfather.

Life-Shaping/JourneyBend Experience

The Benton Trio’s first road trip was to Dallas. Debi was about 4 months old. Doug wouldn’t join the group for another year. We enrolled at Stamps School of Music. Three weeks in a small apartment and interaction with great people—some of our heroes, others who would become national singers.

We stopped in Wichita to check out an Assembly church that was getting lots of press for their creative youth ministries. Talk about being ahead of the times. The senior pastor talked vision, core values. He spent an hour or more showing us facilities and sharing dreams. I now understand that he was casting a vision into a young couple—with dignity and reserved nature, he was imparting the Kingdom into us.

I also wanted to visit First Baptist Church downtown Dallas. First Baptist Church was a mega-church before the name was invented. Dr. W.A. Criswell was the senior pastor. The Sunday morning we visited was life-shaping as we envisioned the local church. It was a shocking experience.

We were welcomed by a tall thin man who escorted us to our seats. We had been in large churches to worship and minister, but that meant 200-400. That morning we were seeing thousands. Huge choir. The service was seamless. The first two rows seated men dressed alike with a white boutonniere in each lapel. I don’t know if they were Deacons or Elders. During the pastoral prayer, they turned and knelt. Precision! It may sound stuffy, but in fact I saw it as orderly in a room filled with high energy.

After the benediction, our welcomer came to talk to us. “Have you met our pastor?” he asked. He took us to meet Dr. Criswell as if we were somebodies. Criswell was a world leader in his part of the Church. And they treated us well! We had never been in a setting like that. I took notes!

We have been reminded of First Baptist during the past few days. We listened to a radio message by the present pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffers, as we traveled. We reviewed that Sunday morning when we had discovered, “Dorothy, shine your ruby slippers, this is not Kansas anymore.” Then, a friend posted this:

https://www.facebook.com/drjeffress/videos/2326541957592907/UzpfSTEzMzc5ODI1NjY6MTAyMTM5ODM2OTAyNDk4NDI/

Precision, orderly, exciting, anointing. Love it!

©2019  D. Dean Benton

Honoring grows into Respect

The last couple of mornings, I’ve been listening (as I exercise) to Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/andy-stanley-leadership-podcast/id290055666

Andy’s wife Sandra is his guest and they talk about parenting & leadership. There are two podcast sessions and they are rich and take-notes-instructive. I have learned many things about a child’s age-grouping, discipline and stuff. Andy and Sandra had only two basic rules: Respect your mother and don’t lie.

The link above will take you to a list of podcasts. Because they are listed top to bottom according most recent broadcast, you will begin with #2. As of today, the top two podcasts are about parenting & leadership. They are about 20 minutes. You can click on each one individually without subscribing.

Thanks. I think you’ll like and benefit.

©2019 D. Dean Benton

Survival and Thrival Tools

It is not my blog mission to share my wisdom—(as if I had some to share.) It is my intent to pass along what I’m learning or coming to understand. I am not the focus—what I’m learning is of value only if it becomes value to you. It is not my intent to convince you to think or believe like me. A maven is a person who has discovered something of value that must be shared—if I know the short cut to the bathroom at Staples or Kohls, I want to let you in on the secret. Not everyone who reads any given blog needs a bathroom, so if my discovery is helpful, I’m glad, someone else may find resources in something else I write or read.

Whether you consciously know this or not, your brain constantly searches for what will help you to survive and/or thrive. With a pastor-teacher heart, I’m alert to survival/thrive tools.

At our website (https://www.deanbenton.org/ricochet) is a picture of the books I’m currently reading that are providing value that I think may be of value to you. I’m sharing the writer’s wisdom/knowledge/journey/insight because they have impressed me as a survival/thrival tool.

“We are living in an America of perpetual adolescence. Our kids simply don’t know what an adult is anymore—or how to become one. Many don’t see a reason even to try. Perhaps more problematic, the older generations have forgotten that we need to plan to teach them.” (Senator Ben Sasse in his 2017 book, The Vanishing American Adult.)

It is really the work of parents, but that is not happening. Absence of fathers in the home makes this difficult. It cannot only happen in classrooms. Over the past 20 years, I have sensed this to be true, so we have talked about conference grounds, retreat centers, ranches, farms, academies where character can be built and maturity reached. Sasse lists habits, tools, experiences that build and maintain character.

The ultimate goal is a life well lived. Our personal investments into that possibility is character and maturity. Senator Ben Sasse has given me tools I had not examined to build character. He says,

“Melissa and I have a working theory of how to raise our own kids—in a way that gives them a fighting chance to become productive adults—and to inculcate the values and beliefs that were a the heart of the American experience since our founding and make life worth living.” (page 8)

  1. Overcome peer culture and wrestle with other life stages.

Discover the body—its potential and its frailty, and the many diverse stages of life that lie ahead—by breaking free of the tyranny of one generation.

    2.  Work hard.

Develop a work ethic. Hard work, manual labor, working outdoors—on a farm, say, or a ranch—is an education in itself. The goal is to learn the habits that lead to the discovery of meaning in work. Your aim is to become free to work with delight, rather than seeking to be free from work.

     3.  Resist Consumption

Consumption is not the key to happiness; production is.

Embrace limited consumption. “Luxury is the bane of republics.” …limit your desires and how to find satisfaction and gratitude in the meaning of a limited set of true needs.

    4.  Travel to experience the difference between “need” and “want.”

Learn how to travel and to travel light. To understand the difference between a need and want, you need to know what it’s like to subsist. …essential to experience other cultures so you can look back at yours. Literature is a key way to gain that perspective, but the best way to shock open young eyes is to travel.

    5.  Become truly literate

Learn how to read and decide what to read.

Senator Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult, ©2017 (St Martin’s Press) pages 86-87.  (A NYT best seller. Used books available from Amazon & others.)

The intentional building of character is also a dimension of what the New Testament calls “making disciples.” To be discipled does not only mean to prepare people to live in heaven, but to thrive as pilgrims and Kingdom representatives in the earthly realm. I dig through this information and try to calculate how my life would be different had I been able to follow these habit-suggestions all the way to embedding them. I am asking which one is where I need to work on in this season to develop my character.

Someone—mentors, churches, schools, academies and parents—must catch the vision of the values for which our ancestors fought and teach the next generation to treasure our history: for what it provides and what its sins, mistakes, errors and horrors teach us. And! how to merge the best from other cultures and heritages which will expand our own.

©2019 D. Dean Benton    Writer, wonderer

Questions and comments welcomed.

https://www.deanbenton.org/

Destiny Weaver

From Stephen Mansfield:

“The Celtic Christians understood God as the “Destiny Weaver” and I find this an apt summary of what scripture tells us. We are each unique creations, potentially endowed with great gifts in order to achieve a glorious destiny determined before time by a sovereign God. The original language of one verse even tells us that we are—

“God’s carefully crafted poem, written in advance for divinely ordained moments still ahead of us.”

Few words excite me more than the word destiny. Jeremiah 29:11 and God’s revelatory promise to the prophet:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah1:5).

Have you wrestled with those words? Are they limited to Jeremiah or does God set each of us aside or apart for a purpose? Destiny? I want to honestly exegete those words. Are the Four Spiritual Laws specifically accurate, “God has a wonderful plan for your life” or just generally true?

I do know that every person is formed, set apart, and appointed by someone or something.

Howard Schultz founder of Starbucks grew up in poverty in the home of a brutal and careless father. In a moment of rage, the father pulled Howard out of the shower and beat him which set them at silence for over a decade. It was when the younger Schultz learned about PSTD among soldiers that he understood what drove his father who came home from the war emotionally wounded. Now Starbucks is a participant in caring for such soldiers. But words and action set Howard on a different track.

A common sermon from the Apostle Paul is “encourage one another.” He even said, “I wish that you all would encourage.” To “encourage” is one of the elements of personal prophesying. It is my bet that most of us receive more negative prophetic statements than positive, guiding words from the Body of Christ. Observations or corrections or diagnosis can become life-defining.

I’ve been prophesied over a few times. (Prophesying meaning that a person speaks what they are hearing from God about the destiny, work, calling, family or discernment about a question.) Sometimes those prophesies over me were akin to, “God, help this boy grow taller.” Hardly helpful!!

I want to flush all the ignorant, well-intended, but misguided and those who speak curses. Calculate God-directed and Spirit-anointed “words” that give direction, guidance and open the soul to possibilities and God’s plan.

What is clearer to me is that the recipient of a prophet word is not given a “grace-gift.” It is not a present to be received like a birthday gift to which it would be awkward to say, “Thanks. What do I owe you for this?” A prophetic “word” (meaning an image or a verbal paragraph of what is to happen in God’s plan for you) is an implanted image of what is to be—what can be.

Passivity is a prophetic-word killer. (Usually.) We are generally given prophetic words or visions to tell us what God intends to do so we can prepare. Using another charismatic word—I think such a prophetic word should be accompanied by an “impartation”—instructions on what we are to do to prepare to effectively utilize what has been prophesied.

“Lord, what should I be doing to prepare myself and everyone affected by your insight into my destiny?”

If God is the Destiny Weaver, and I believe He is, He works best with us as co-workers. If we have a sense of where we are headed to accomplish X then we can learn what skills we are to acquire, what knowledge we need to add and partners we are to gather around us. Some of us give up too soon and question what happened to the promise or how  we screwed up so severely that God backed out of the deal. Perhaps we have not yet prepared to receive.

The last few days, through a political source and also from a promise 2-3 decades old, a song has added insight.

“Don’t Give Up on the Brink of a Miracle.

Mike Adkins

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU9wxi6HXZY&list=RDTU9wxi6HXZY&start_radio=1

Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle

Don’t give in God is still on His throne

Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle

Remember you’re not alone.

Copyright ©2019  D.  Dean Benton           Writer, Wonderer, Witness

 

The Road to Together

Tom Brokaw apologized for saying that it would be helpful if the incoming immigrants would assimilate. Mr. Brokaw was almost in tears and in apologizing he betrayed the people he called The Greatest Generation. He also revealed one of the critical elements that is ripping at Europe and keeps the USA from coming together and will always keep us divided.

Assimilation has become one more battlefield word. Asking anyone to learn English if they intend to live in our country seems the least to demand. Without speaking and reading English, how will the immigrants or refugees shop, buy gasoline, interact at work? We are a melting pot nation and pride ourselves at growing by knowing the culture, languages, heritages of our new neighbors. That is impossible if our new neighbors can’t tell us or write about their journeys. It looks to me that some of the new neighbors are insisting that we abandon or change our culture and adopt theirs. How does that make us a richer people?

Senator Ben Sasse says,

“When I was president of Midland College, it was obvious that the college’s decision two decades earlier to abandon a rich core curriculum had made the student experience hollower, shallower. Even if someone had big and legitimate objections to parts of the old core curriculum—either what it included or what it omitted—there was still great value in students, faculty, alumni at least having some books in common, even if only as a point of departure from which to argue.”

Feel how this impacts today’s news?

“When previous generations of students had been in the dining hall, or after they had lost a big game, or when they were wrestling with ethical question in the dorm late at night, or they were thinking through a broken relationship or when a student was killed in an accident or diagnosed with cancer, there had been common language for approaching problems. No more.”

The next time you hear someone say, “Please… bring us together” know this:

“Having shared intellectual traditions glues us together, helps newcomers assimilate, and allows us to take active roles in our shared community.” (Page 224 The Vanishing American Adult, Senator Ben Sasse, St. Martin’s Press © 2017)

With no shared language, traditions, core values, “bringing us together” has nothing around which we can be brought together. There is no “together” to bring us to.

“In 1987 at Stanford, Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson led five hundred students in a Palo Alto march attacking the “Western Culture” requirement for Stanford freshmen. Newspapers and the evening news across the country seized on the protestors’ chants of ‘Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western cultures’ got to go!’ When the university decided to abandon the older curriculum, it signaled to many a definitive end of an era.” (P. 223)

Or a civilization!

As I listen, I wonder where some people in Washington went to school to learn what it means to be an American system. Why our form of government has been a fairly successful experiment and why our economic system has stimulated wealth and survival.

Mr. Brokaw, I appreciate your desire to be kind and inclusive, but your first statements were not unkind. They were the practical, and pragmatic truth. It works best.

© 2019 D. Dean Benton

Writer, Wonderer

Repelling the Spreading Global Gloom

You still have time.

The Ford pickup was not in my stocking or driveway, so I still have room. I have a visiting dog that would look really nice in a pickup. Kona—not named after the coffee—loves to adventure including jumping in an open vehicle door to go joust with squirrels or ride to Staples. She rides straight up looking out the windshield and pawing at my hand to pet her.

Noting the bright sun, I decided we would run to Staples and since Starbucks is close, we would get a cup and sit in solar heat warming the car to read and pray. I was very comfortable enjoying the beautiful day, reading a stimulating book and drinking coffee. Kona wasn’t into coffee, reading or praying. Restless, indicating the seat wasn’t large enough to fit her; serious boredom settled in. So we packed it up and went home. Kona was really glad to see Carole.

I was looking forward to the prayer time—I really needed it. I heard someone say yesterday, “We live in a toxic social and cultural atmosphere.” My rule has been you can live in your toxic world if you want to. Just stay away from me! Toxic people just don’t worry about it. Every male leader I know is talking about the state of manhood from declining sperm count to testosterone, and how current destructive chatter is that a male presence on the earth was Mother God’s biggest mistake.

The women running for the Presidency in 2020 are running on the platform of diminishing or exiling men. They sound like they interned for a veterinarian. But these women—not all of them ladies, as described by an earlier age—sneak onto news broadcasts to say, “Oh! Just sit down and shut up. And while you’re doing that stand up and do something right for a change.” Think what they intend to do with executive orders.

So I really needed to pray. To be delivered from the permeating fog, to renew my mind, to gain wisdom as James 1:5 promises and to rediscover true north. And clarity would be good.

Brain specialist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, says that thoughts become energy. That energy can fill the atmosphere and infect bystanders. We need positive, creative atmospheres to overcome the negative energy that can become demonic and lethal.

Stephen Mansfield, Dr. Jordan Peterson, Senator Ben Sasse, Brett McCay (Art of Manliness), John Eldridge & Sons are talking about destruction in the wake of generations of males who did not learn how to be men. Growing in a culture of women, boys have few or no models of manhood and few close adult male friends who conferred status. (Only other males can confer manhood. “You are the man!”) Representative Trey Gowdy tells stories of a friend of his father who was instrumental in Gowdy’s learning what a man does and what describes him. Like a tribe or an uncle.

“…spreading global gloom.”

That headline described the results of  holiday spending and the downward expectation of major retailers’ projected earnings. It also describes the mental-emotional and spiritual effect upon families, cities and nations when confident, competent men are photo shopped out of the picture.

We live in chaos. Rudderless and few anchors. That is why we are also living in addiction. Those who monitor our rivers say there are measurable amounts of anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs in the water. It is how we manage the craziness and the negative energy blown into our faces and souls like second-hand smoke, but many times more toxic. The men and women who are not talking about manhood are writing and talking about depression and anxiety. The opioid crisis and the things above are a connected network—the dots connect.

“Socrates taught, it is almost impossible to educate someone with an answer until he or she is invested in asking a question.” (Senator Ben Sasse, The Vanishing American Adult, St Martin’s Press, 2017)

The lack of curiosity or belief that there are answers to the chaos leading to demise of civilization and downward thrust of all things civil keeps people from searching, seeking , asking. I was going to pray for a Great American Awakening that fits the current culture. I have a small clue what it might look like. It probably won’t look anything like those of the past.  

My wife was folding blankets the other morning and said to me,

“Time to put the night away”

That sounded like a clarion call to me.

A woman approached Dwight L. Moody to say, “I don’t like the way you do evangelism.” He responded, “I like my way of doing it more than the way you’re not doing it.”

I don’t know if a wall (regardless of building materials) is the best way to deal with the southern border. I listen to the pro-barrier people and to opponents. I’m not hearing any other solutions. None! I want to hear a better plan with every rejection of the one proposed. Give me your alternative plan!

In a morning article, a mother talked about how the current attacks on boys and men are affecting her grade school son. As attacks on boys and men grow more outrageous, an entire generation has a stereotypical reputation that is dubbed as projected adolescence.

There are solutions. I like Senator Ben Sasse’s thinking as outlined in his book “The Vanishing American Adult.”  

It is indeed time to put the night away. To this point, I like what Ben Sasse sees as the plan to build adults, to build character and rebuild a nation. I will repeat his plan in my next communiqué. He calls them “Five Character-Building Habits.”

© D. Dean Benton — Writer, Wonderer, Witness

The Caleb Year

One sermon after another was about the same thing: Goal-setting. Predictable for the first Sunday of the year. Some of the preachers framed goal-setting in the “what is the right thing to do?” Which path? Choice? Each preacher used the words, “consistency” and “consequences.”

Andy said it is not a right or wrong question. It is a “which is the wise choice?” Right or wrong is a different question than a wise choice. A right decision may not be wise for you. The better question is…

“In light of my past experiences, my current circumstances and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?” (Andy Stanley)

I am in the Caleb Generation. (Joshua 14:6-15) I desire my brand to include the word, “Wholehearted.” Caleb’s selfie is amazing as he uses words like “strong” “capable” and ready for battle.

I listened to those preachers talking about goal-setting and I felt cynically resistant. I went to my soul to ask why. Some of the responses:

            “Whatever I decide won’t matter.”

In a weekend retreat, I talked about goal-setting. A relative young man angrily said, “It won’t matter!” It was not a faith issue, it was a pragmatic statement based on “Been there and it never worked. Not going there again!” That is an entrance to nihilism, cynicism and never trying again. Not deciding is to specifically decide. To neglect is to determine.

            “I don’t know how.”

If we grow up in certain types of homes, goal-setting is natural. Planners and calendars are as common as alarm clocks. But, what if your care-givers don’t set goals—getting by day to day uses all available energy? Many of us don’t think about family goals, career goals, marriage mission statements because we think they are a futile activity and life is a crap shoot or we are glued to “God is in control—therefore….” I reflected that planning was not easy when I was fifteen and it was not in my thought process that I needed to learn.

            “God (fate, universe, karma) is in charge!”

Proverbs 16:9:

A person’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps. Contemporary English Version We make our own plans, but the LORD decides where we will go. Good News Translation You may make your plans, but God directs your actions. Holman Christian Standard Bible A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.

The word “but” is misleading. It suggests—”You can foolishly make your plans, but God is going to override them and guide your steps.”  I think the word “and” is more accurate, at least more comfortable to me. “You make the plans and God will guide your steps to fulfill them.”

I have come to believe that God plants in us “desires” and depends upon us to pursue them as He guides our steps in that process.

            “I don’t know where to begin.”

Goals tend to grow out of your vision of the future. Finances, health, relationships, spiritual, family/marriage, career-calling-occupation.

1. What do I need to do to get there?

2. What do I need to learn in each area?

3. Who would know the answers and would tell me experiences?

4. Who do I need on the journey?

Since entering the Caleb Generation, my sleep has been affected by the dumb and ignorant things I have done. I have perfect recollection from age six. I question myself how I could have “known better.” That would have required curiosity and mentors. At the same time, I’ve wondered about the craziness that has become dominant in our culture—it has become our culture driven by a lack of character that once was a strong weight-bearing beam.

I am thoroughly disgusted with the Congresswoman who publically called our President a mf..er. One female reporter/writer attempted to ease the use of the word with, “It was a private meeting—it wasn’t meant to be….” During my lifetime, character was measured by those things we do or say when we think no one is watching or listening.

I’ve been reading heavy studies and opinions about “young people”, the future of Democracy and Western Civilization. I’ve come away from those pages with a sense that character is the missing component. So, I come to the goal-setting issue by determining what needs to be improved or changed in my character. It is being clarified that the goal or end result is not as important as the habits we establish to get us to our desired future.

I want to talk later about the habits.

Thanks for wondering with me.

©2019 D. Dean Benton

Welcoming the New Year

The days between Christmas and New Year’s feel important to hear God for the New Year instruction and to lay out plans. I want to hear God’s plan, at least those parts I can fit into and cooperate with—at least so I’m not conflicting with His plan.

In my early years of ministry, we always had a “Watch Night” service on New Year’s Eve. Most Evangelical churches did. Food, celebration, interaction, contemplation and dedication of ourselves to God’s purposes for the new year. Then Planners became part of that liturgy.

During my pastoral years, I thought it good to have a weekly “Vesper’s Service” on Sunday evening for congregants to bring their planners to God and ask about the new week and his guidance and then to consecrate the coming days to God.  Intent—bring Kingdom life to our calendars—annual and daily.

Ransomed Heart Podcast gives an excellent, innovative and purposeful approach to this. I found it very helpful and with some fresh trails. Very instructional.

https://www.ransomedheart.com/rhplay/podcast/restoration-year

It has been thought-provoking and a pleasure to offer the 2018 blogs. I have prayed they would present another point of view or insight. It is my intent to provide resources or ideas from sources that you would not normally access. Your response (or rebuttal) is always welcome.

Partnering with God for a great 2019.

©2018 D. Dean Benton