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 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.

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

Last Minute Gift List

I’ve made my want list and I’ve checked it twice. I want for Christmas 2018:

  1. A blue 1956-1960 Ford pickup. Red is the currently hot marketing color for pickups. If red is all you can find, that will work, but blue would match my eyes.
  2. A dog. I need a dog to ride with me in my new pickup.
  3. A 2-story log lodge—about 6000 square feet.

A log lodge has been on my list for several decades. Someone has not been listening! A Wall Street Journal (12-12-18) article says Baby Boomers are aging as the loneliest generation ever. Senator Ben Sasse quotes a study in his book, The Vanishing American Adult, that Millenials experience their turmoil as loneliness.

A building does not guarantee a community, but it can help.

I’m also thinking about my wish list for you.

  1. A copy of Ben Sasse’ book and desire to talk about the forecast Kingdom.
  2. Commitment to regularly interact with, worship with, eat lunch and drink coffee with a diverse group of ages and ethnics. In 1972, I suggested to a struggling Baptist church they replace pews with tables and chairs. They rejected my wisdom. I have since learned that the word “preaching” pictures the audience sitting around tables. We could use the log lodge.
  3. When you come to the lodge or our house you will experience God’s presence. Emmanuel is still His modus operandi.

Merry Christmas—An intentional New Year

©2018 D. Dean Benton—writer, wonderer, worshiper, witness

The Winner is…

“Check out any church altar built in the 19th century. Churches didn’t pay for altars. They honored the carpenter most celebrated locally for craftsmanship by invitation to build it. An Oscar-like event—be awarded the contract to build an altar for a church.” (A post from Len Sweet)

Which altar? In churches with split chancels, the altar is what Baptists call the Communion Table. The pulpit and lectern are separated to give open access to the altar. Sweet is Wesleyan so my guess is the “altar” refers to the bench in front of the platform where people kneel to pray through or give their lives to Jesus.

A church in South Carolina is solidly wood with pine and other native wood on the walls, pews, floor and platform. I like wood, but this building felt different. It was immaculate. I asked who cleaned the church. “We take turns. The men in our grandfather’s generation went into the hills to bring lumber to build the building. We would be dishonoring them if we didn’t clean the sanctuary with love.”

Do you catch the significance of building and the great honor of being chosen to build the altar? To be chosen to prepare the place where contact with God is enjoyed!

Wonder if Jesus built altars? He built yokes which were considered the best because they “fit most comfortably.” A bench that invited a revisit. Made of cherry, mahogany, pine, fur carved to fit elbows and foreheads. Where wood fragrances envelope and the grain reminds you of strength and beauty God is instilling in you as you kneel there.

What an honor to be selected to build an altar where the presence of God is hosted. Is there a greater partnership than hosting the presence of God? At tables, in the woods, at Starbucks, sitting on a boulder overlooking a snow-covered landscape. It may be our uttermost evangelistic tool—to create atmospheres where we and friends will sense we are in the Presence.

©2018 D. Dean Benton

An Eagle’s Point of View

“Why be an eagle that won’t spread its wings?”

(Gloria Gaither)

That lyric has been glued to my brain and itching itself into my thinking. Eagles are the creature most quoted in songs, and preachers/teachers vigilantly remind us that we are eagles. Raises questions.

John Eldredge writes and speaks on the need for boys to adventure and to have fathers who shepherd them in that adventuring. If a boy does not learn to adventure, as a man he may find risking difficult. If adventure is not shepherded, the maturing young man may risk foolishly.

I have just finished reading Unified by Trey Gowdy and Tim Scott. (2018 Tyndale) This account of two men serving South Carolina constituents in the Senate and House—Scott, a Black man and Gowdy, a White man, took me into a fairly unknown landscape. A unique kind of friendship. There were times, as I read and considered, when I found my breathing very shallow. They are both Baptists and born again believers and their worldview is informed more by following Jesus than their political positions. It is from what they have seen and learned in Washington, D.C. that underscored their conclusions:

“We will change the nation only by changing the condition of the human heart. And that can only happen through love. True friendship is born out of acceptance and unconditional love—a love that is consistent and intentional.” (page 28)

Gowdy says about the difficult days of the Benghazi hearings,

“Far greater than any piece of advice Tim could have offered was the sacred gift of presence and his friendship…. To provide a sanctuary or a safe harbor to a friend in need is the greatest gift you can give.” (p 78)

If I quoted every sentence and paragraph that gripped me, this would cease to a blog and a reprint of Unified.

“Let’s see if we can fix it. Let’s see if we can build a justice system that is fully respected and fully worthy of respect. Let’s see if we can move toward that simple dichotomy between people who are of good conscience and people who aren’t” (Trey Gowdy—p 139)

I consulted with a church over a two-year period. They wanted a solution to their decline. Someone I was reading at the time said about the chaos and division in our country that the Church was probably the only source of solution and healing. That phrase seemed to be the one critical element in the equation.

I don’t know if it came in a dream or a wide-awake awareness. I saw that church’s new building spread across two blocks in response to the “solutions and healings.” Whenever we are in that city, I “see” that image. I envisioned them hosting four churches. Each with its own pastor and worship time. A Korean or Chinese church, an African-American church, a “contemporary” church. With the regular individual weekly gatherings, all four would gather for celebration once a month. A monthly meal together and small groups combining folks from the 4 churches. This meta-church would give us a platform to get to know people and become friends with Jesus Followers and Seekers beyond our tribe and travel routes. We would hear life-experiences thereby come to understand actions and attitudes and emotions that bewilder us.

Carole and I agree that we miss hummingbirds and wish them well as they make their southern tour. Outside our window this morning were five male cardinals and three females. Two pair of blue jays, a mourning dove, red-headed woodpecker and an assortment of colors and sizes, plus several dozen sparrows.

Eagles never accept our invitation. Turkey vultures drop in occasionally. We are half-a-mile from the river where the eagles hang out. I’ve never been able to coax an eagle to join me on the parking next to the river. But all I need to gather a crowd of seagulls is a crust of old bread.

I am not an ornithologist or a serious bird watcher, but Miss Gloria captured my soul with the line, “Why be an eagle that won’t spread its wings.” What are eagles best known for? Spreading their wings and soaring majestically.

It is difficult to spread your wings if they are broken or confined.

©2018 D. Dean Benton

writer, wonderer, witness


Guiding Umbrellas

We’ve been to Thanksgiving 2018. It’s good. Ten around our table for food and conversation. The food got cold, but the conversation was warm. Three hours of talk, laughter and contemplation. I carried away about 4 new pounds and a ton of inspiration and instruction.

Two of my teachers and models, Donald Miller and Andy Stanley, sat at a studio table for podcast conversation. Miller interviewed Andy and then Andy interviewed Miller for his podcast.

Miller and Stanley’s podcasts are about leadership, but they are much broader and this one for sure.

Donald Miller tells about leaving Nashville after a heated discussion with his fiancé to lead a conference in Oregon. During his prep time before the conference he determined the umbrella guiding purpose of their marriage was to be restorative. When his wife came home from work, his assignment was to be an agent of restoration—a facilitator of what she needed to be restored.

They have no children. They are now building a home with 18 beds to house people who need to be restored.

You may want to engage the entire podcast: Donald Miller Building A Story Brand Podcast 123

Type into the search engine. It will open to podcast page. Number five of options is this podcast. Click on that and you’re in.

How about building a franchise of restorative houses? A meta-approach to church.

With fork and journal in hand.

©2018 D. Dean Benton

The Spirit Told Me

My book Meandering is about hearing the voice of God. Dr. Mark Chironna has been instrumental in our faith journey so his following words felt brutal to me. Of course they are true:


“Far too much is ascribed to “the Spirit told me” when subjective inner impressions are loaded with unmet needs that drive those who make such claims. Failure to discern psychological denial , self-deception, and disassociation make room for tons of false ‘leadings'”.

1 Kings 19:11-13 fascinates me.

11Then the LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD. Behold, the LORD is about to pass by.” And a great and mighty wind tore into the mountains and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a still, small voice. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”…

So many people try to make a case that only the “still small voice” is God’s tone and method of communication. I’ve learned God has an outdoor voice and He is not afraid to use it. This passage is an encounter between God and Elijah. I question whether it is to be generalized to all.

“Oh, that’s not God!”

To settle on the limited vocabulary and communication gifts puts us in a terrible bind. Usually when I need to hear from God, there are many loud voices screaming at me. A “whisper” can get decibled into oblivion. God has used His outdoor voice to capture my attention so He could whisper something personal into my spirit.

There has to be one more step, a skill to determine if what I’m hearing through the filter of self-deception, disassociation, and psychological or I will dismiss every inner impression with a blast—”Oh that’s not God!”

Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice….” God wants, desires and longs to talk to His people. That understanding and listening skill is more important than still small whisperings. After being confronted with the self-deception traits, unless I have tools to determine how to discern those traits I will ignore the voice of God: Oh, that’s not God. It is just my deluded and bent self.

“Lord, could you speak up. I missed your words.”

“The Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I’m about to do?'” (Genesis 18)

A couple of months ago, a tow truck deposited a GMC 4106 bus across the street from our house. It was so close to the vision I had about the bus God was going to provide our ministry. The bus showing up on our street was like a tornado alert. It is still there. There is no For Sale sign on it. It is just there. For weeks it tormented me. It led me through that long ago process when I tried to figure out who I was really hearing. It sits there and I wonder what inner impressions were loaded with unmet needs, what undiscerned psychological denial, self-deception, and disassociation made room for my mishearing.

When God’s voice becomes discounted, we tend to seek shelter under our own juniper tree; When we no longer believe that we are one of God’s Facebook friends; when we assume that God no longer has anything to say to us, the soul begins to shrivel—the blossoms fall off the previously luxurious plant.

It is a curious question God asks Elijah. Twice, He asks, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” That’s what the small still voice said. Who do we ask for counsel and insight when confronted by that question?


©2018 D. Dean Benton

Sample Meandering at

Finding Your Flair

We sponsor two Compassion children. A 20- year old Ethiopian with whom I would enjoy a long conversation and a 12-year old girl from Honduras. I don’t know how much a 12 year old knows about the caravan, but I would like to get her family’s perspective.

The 20-year old asked us to pray for his country. I wrote to him yesterday promising to do that. It seems my family has been praying for Ethiopia my entire life. My grandmother listened to missionaries and radio preachers who evangelized and served in that country. I ran across a news photo of Emperor Haile Salassie in my grandmother’s scrapbook. I was stunned when I Googled him and read that today is the 88th anniversary of his coronation! He served Ethiopia 1930-1974.

We bought a share in a chicken farm in Ethiopia several years ago to enable a town to be self-supporting. I’m a little nervous that we will receive a notice informing us it is our turn to clean the coop.

During the latter weeks of the Midterms, I have reappraised the objectives of our ministries—books and blogs. Being a pundit is not my calling, but standing for truth and being prophetic is. Our ministry Mission is to embrace, encourage, equip and engage people. I talk about culture and society when they defy reality and truth or when history indicates a certain path leads to destruction. A female news commentator says, “White men are violent and a problem.” Is that our new assignment? How do we offset that prophesy over the not yet initiated boy?

The computer in your smart phone is more powerful than the computers that drove the space modules in the early editions of space travel. So, I ask, how do I utilize the increase in power to embrace, encourage, equip and engage people? More specifically, how do I encourage my 20-year old Ethiopian who is committed to Jesus to be positioned to engage his world?

I dreamed last night that I bought a structure resembling a school and a warehouse. An elderly woman said, “This will cost a million dollars to get it running.” I thanked her for giving the first million toward the mission. Baby pigs, chickens and kids ill-equipped to engage their world lived in the badly cared for huge building. And more came as the darkness gathered.

In my self-appraisal, I have been nudged to re-read “Genius of Guinness” and to read “Grace” who was one of the Guinness women. The Guinness dreams and work captured me in the first reading. One line…

“…Old Arthur’s second son, Arthur, had inherited what would become the quintessential Guinness flair for business.”

It is that entrepreneurial insight and gifting that Paul called, Apostleship, that is called for as we face the next season. “..flair for business.” The ability to assess needs accurately, provide solutions and the skills to sell to the multitudes.

The plants are indoors for the winter. One blossomed all summer. The blossom is big, orchid-like and ravishing. Now that it is inside it is still producing beautiful colors. It erupts with color and design which lasts one day. We had not expected it to continue the blooming. When I walk past it, it whispers, “I’m not finished, yet.” It has a flair for flowering.

Trey Gowdy received this counsel from Paul Ryan:

“Find what you’re good at it and do more of it. Find what you’re bad at, and stop doing it.”

Gowdy crafted his own mantra:

“Find what you’re good at, and be a decent person in the process.”

(Unified, Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Trey Gowdy, Tyndale ©2018)

It is with a cramp in my gut that I encourage you to find your flair.

©2018 D. Dean Benton–writer, wonderer, witness