Feeling at Home

The Speer Family has always been one of favorite singing groups. Their excellence and choice of songs modeled for us a way to do ministry. We were influenced by the sight of Brock praying at a Nazarene camp meeting altar. We saw the depth of the well from which their passion came.

The Speers were immaculate musicians playing on albums I wouldn’t have guessed. Chet Atkins booked Ben and Brock to sing a back-up trio with Gordon Stoker from the Jordanaires on several Elvis Presley early recorded songs.

Legendary Ben Speer was the musical director of the Gaither Homecoming Series. A friend who traveled with the Speers says Ben was a perfectionist at the piano and his sense of rhythm was impeccable. Ben went to be at home with Jesus last week.

That reminded me of an evening when we were on the program with the Speers in eastern Indiana at an outdoor concert. I think we were at a race track. It was a great event for us. Then it started to rain. We grabbed sound equipment and moved into a church in town. The singers, including us, sat in the choir loft slightly soaked to the skin. The Speers warmed our hearts. Brock and Faye Speer, Jeannie Johnson was with them, Diane Mays was in the troupe and Susan Speer was on that trip. And Ben.

I sat at the bass end of the piano. At one point it seemed to me they should sing, “Feelin at Home in the Presence of Jesus.” I enjoyed the piano licks on their arrangement and I knew if we were singing, the mood was just right for that song. I leaned toward Ben and requested they sing that song. When they ended the song they were singing, Ben did the piano run introducing “Feelin”. It just seemed right. A message for the moment–and now.

The legend and excellent musician is home with Jesus. He, no doubt, is feeling at home.

I couldn’t find an online track of the Speers singing the song. Here are the Booth Brothers singing “Feeling at Home” which is one of my favorite songs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEI5rqs3V_k

©2017 D. Dean Benton  dean@deanbenton.org

“…putting my feet right under His table….”

Check Your Dream

Bishop Joseph Garlington grew up in a preacher’s home. From a very young age, he wanted to be a preacher. He responded to that call. He has pastored the same church in Pittsburgh for many years, he is a musician—some of his songs are in the Contemporary Christian catalogue.

A TV interviewer asked him: “Did you have dreams when you were a boy?”

The Bishop responded:

“Sometimes, you have to see someone doing what you’ve been called to do to recognize that God has called you to do it—what I am supposed to do.”

The late C. Peter Wagner taught widely about Spiritual gifts. One of his instructions was to “practice—test” I was not comfortable with that until I realized he was counseling us to get around people who are doing what we suspect we are called to do and see how it resonates with our spirit.

Bishop Garlington heard a five-year-old preach and that affirmed what Garlington had wondered. Garlington was fortunate that his father affirmed and encouraged his search and questioned his thinking and decisions.

A four year old was in one of our concert-preaching events. She said, “Let me go up there with them—I can do that…I want to do that.” She will enroll this fall in college with a music major.

Put yourself in the atmosphere and environment where the work you sense you are called to is being done. What do you experience? Love it? Feel as if God has given you a more effective way to do? Repulsed by a shabby approach? How about signing on as support staff?

Questioning your vision? Dream(s)? Test. Practice.

 

©2017 D. Dean Benton

The Royal Spud

Famine was not uncommon in medieval days. The Spanish grew potatoes for cattle. The potato was misshapen and ugly and didn’t have much taste, so Europeans never considered it as a food product for humans. And, they refused to consider Idaho’s pride.

Frederick the Great of Prussia saw a need and potential: food that would stave off hunger and a product to keep down the price of bread. When the population replied that even dogs wouldn’t eat potatoes, and they weren’t going to, Frederick issued an edict in 1774: “Grow and eat potatoes.” Marie Antoinette wore potato flowers, but the marketing was not working. The world view of the general population refused to accept russets as a resource.

Frederick had an epiphany. He began to think empathetically. He chose to view the potato through the world view of his citizens. He instructed his gardeners to plant a field of royal spuds and surround that field with heavily armed guards to protect the royal veggie from thieves—but not too well. The peasants got the idea that anything the king guarded that heavily must be of value. The peasants began to swipe a few potatoes so they could plant them for themselves.

“Economists have estimated that the introduction of the potato was responsible for a quarter of the growth in Old World population between 1700 and 1900.” (Difference, Bernadette Jiwa, ©2014

Ms. Jiwa says it was only when Frederick saw through eyes of empathy that he was able to sell the potato which affected history. A couple of direct quotes from Jiwa from a business view:

“…figuring out what people want and finding ways to delight one person at a time, one person who is thrilled to talk about you to her friends…” makes your product attractive. Empathy—seeing and feeling from the perspective of the person you seek to serve.

Empathy is one of the four primary components of Emotional Intelligence. Empathy is also a primary theme in the New Testament.

“…marketing is…a transfer of emotion. It’s about changing how people feel and in turn, helping them fall in love with something, or maybe just a little bit more in love with themselves.” (Page 13-Difference.)

That is why one statement is key to healthy family relationships: “Help me understand what you are thinking about this and what you are feeling.”

©2017 D. Dean Benton     dean@deanbenton.org

Marks of a Gentleman

I’m glad President Trump chose not to attend the White House Correspondence Dinner. I usually watch it on TV. The jokes and comments are supposed to be caustic, cynical and extremely overstated—akin to trash talk. It has ceased to be funny.

Last year the camera focused on Donald Trump as the “comedian-host” and President Obama ‘roasted” (excoriated) Trump who was in the audience. I watched Mr. Trump—the first few zingers were funny and he smiled. Then the comments got personal and cruel. He stopped smiling and made some decisions. I’m glad Trump will not be there this year to receive the trash comments. I’m also glad he will not be near a mic. His comments, intended to be humorous, sometimes miss and come off as personal attacks. Sometimes they are! It is just best for the civilized world that our POTUS stay home.

I felt many of the comments directed from the podium toward and about President Obama last year were also way out of line. Crude, vicious, stupid and totally disrespectful of anyone, let alone our president. Such talk in some countries would get the speaker taken immediately to the gallows.

In his current leadership podcast (https://www.andystanley.com/podcasts) Andy interviews Horst Schultz. Schultz is seen among the best of hoteliers. He was the trainer at the Ritz Carleton when it became the example of hospitality. Twenty-three years ago, Andy sat in on two orientation meetings as Schultz (in a 3-piece suit) trained bus boys, waiters, dishwashers, bellboys what it meant to work for the Ritz-Carleton. Andy says he watched the man do “magic” and it changed Andy’s life.

Horst Schultz worked with the minimum wage people with a goal he emphasized:

“We are not servants. We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”

Orientation included defining what a gentleman and lady looked like. That standard and behavior worked for the Ritz as it became the standard for service.

Would a gentleman say the things we hear at the Correspondence Dinner? Where would our culture learn how a “gentleman” acts, talks, treats people without being a ultra-Victorian? William Wilberforce said,

“God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the reformation of manners.”

He was influential and effective in both. Lord, teach our culture manners.

©2017 D. Dean Benton

Time & Marriage

Two of my favorite people celebrated their wedding anniversary yesterday. I’ve been thinking about marriage since seeing their picture.

A few days ago, I got a letter from a friend who told me his wife had died. I couldn’t read the rest of the letter. I put it back in the envelope and put it in the dark hole on my desk. He wrote:

“On New Year’s Eve she said, ‘This is the year when we’ll celebrate our 60th Wedding Anniversary.’ Then without a sound, she fell into my arms unconscious and was gone.’”

I was shaken–I couldn’t cry—could hardly think. I wandered about saying, “Oh, God!”

Carole’s sister thinks we either like old magazines or have a better recycle plan than she does. She handed me a fist full of old Time magazines. Is there a larger contradiction than an out of date Time magazine?

Time, June 13, 2016—“How to Stay Married,” by Bellinda Luscombe. It is one of the articles I’ve read about marriage and staying married successfully. Divorce has generally been declining with one exception: among people 50 and older. Divorce among that age group has doubled in the past two decades. Ms. Luscombe explains why and gives stats. The article is well worth the trouble searching for and reading.

Lisa Grunwald says, “What does a modern marriage promise that historical unions didn’t? The ultimate dream: a partner who sees what you really are and not only accepts, but improves it. ‘The promise you make is not just to be faithful and true and to stay married, but to try and bring out the best in each other.’”

Lifetime monogamy, as Luscombe reminds us, is not a natural state. “But natural and worthwhile are not the same things.”

One of the reasons the article is so helpful and very well written with practical suggestions is the writer quotes some of my favorite marriage counselors and researchers. John Gottman, Gary Chapman and Mark Twain:

“To get the full value of joy, you must have somebody to divide it with.” (Mark Twain.)

But that does not mean marriage is for everyone. We have a friend who gets nauseated at the suggestion she ride along with us to a wedding. She is not sickened by the thought of marriage generally—just the thought of being married. We have many acquaintances who are happily unmarried. So I write this for those who are married and want to make it work.

“Aim to find someone you know you’ll love even during the periods when you don’t like him or her so much. And then, cross your fingers. Just pick out a good one and get lucky.” (Grunwald).

Congratulations to those who celebrate another year. I pray God will walk with the grieving. May God’s peace and full outpouring of all that is needed and desired find its way to those who are living through the darkness of divorce.

The article—read it.

©2017 D. Dean Benton   (dean@deanbenton.org)

My latest book, The Whales are Singing, has chapters and paragraphs about marriage. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/697597

Thanks for stopping by.

Churchill’s M.O.

“The second quality that saved  Winston…was an astounding ability to exert himself against his own nature, to force himself to go beyond what by all accounts he was destined to be.”

“Acutely aware of his deficiencies, he started to re-create himself in preparation for the life he wanted.”

“Having declared war on anything in him that resisted his vision, he knew his drive could overcome even his own personality and biology.” (Stephen Mansfield)

The power of self-knowledge and awareness and a commitment to do what it takes to change and move forward.

D. Dean Benton

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Hang-Over–

Benton Blurb

I’ve been confronted with Ireland since the summer. Now by the fine theologian, pastor, writer Calvin Miller:

“We are inebriated with a yearning after God. We are like earthly junkies needing our ‘God fix’ to live.” ‘The Celt was a very much a God-intoxicated man,’ says John McQuarrie. “This narcotic state of heart is indeed intoxicating. For when we have drunk deeply of the nature of God, there is born within us a God thirst that can never be slaked by any lesser stream.”   (The Path of Celtic Prayer, Calvin Miller, InterVarsity Press, 2007)

Not feeling intoxicated—maybe guilty. The above statement is worth talking about.

(C) D. Dean Benton

It Is Today–Chapter Nine

IT IS TODAY!

©2016 D. Dean Benton

Chapter Nine

It Ain’t Complicated

Few biographies has influenced me more that the story of the Guinness family. The Guinness Way is a distillation (no pun intended) of the Guinness approach to business, family, faith and daily life in five statements.

  1. Discern the ways of God for life and business.
  2. Think in terms of generations yet to come.
  3. Whatever else you do, do at least one thing very well.
  4. Master the facts before you act.
  5. Invest in those you would have invest in you. 60 (Mansfield 255ff)

Those five statements gave the family the framework to shape today in anticipation of tomorrow.

When the first Arthur Guinness established the Guinness brewery in 1759, he leased the land near the James River for 9000 years. Nine thousand years! How’s that for thinking of future generations! All of the mission and social programs that Christians hold as their mission and commission were put into practice by the family and brewery board during the Industrial Revolution in Ireland. The Guinness Family mission was ignited by the gospel of Jesus Christ as they became a dominant force in brewing, banking, politics and ministry with impact in evangelism and missions. What stories of influence!

It is today! You are the most influential designer of your tomorrow. What do you want it to look like?

One of the Guinness family favorite characters is Jane Lucretia Guinness. Os Guinness has heavily influenced my thinking through his books. He says Miss Jane, his great-grandmother, prayed at least seven generations of Guinnesses would be ‘totally committed to Jesus Christ.’ Her picture is in the home of another grandson. It is a ‘reminder of the impact of one woman’s prayers,” the family says. 61(Genius of Guinness xiii)

Prayers were answered. How are you praying for your life framework?

Historian Stephen Mansfield says the following story is a myth. Not everyone believes him. Even those who weren’t sure concluded they would bet their lives on it because it fit the character of both Arthur Guinness and God.

Guinness, as the story is told, was walking the streets of Dublin pleading with God to do something about the drunkenness that was destroying the city, nation and families. Since the water was a risk to drink, the options most appealing were whiskey and rum. As Arthur Guinness interceded, he heard God say, “Make a drink that men will drink that will be good for them.” Guinness beer was the result.

Whether God said such a thing, evidence is clear that God frequently responds to prayers with, “You do something about it.” Guinness had training in brewing and he knew the beer he brewed did indeed have healthy ingredients. And the employees became the initial mission field for health, education, entertainment and improving working conditions. The company saw these as God’s plan.

Assume God planted your deepest, flaming desire in your soul. I often hear people saying, “Oh…please…just no drama.” What creates drama for you? News anchor Megyn Kelly wrote in her memoir about being sexually harassed in the work place. She said 85% of females are sexually harassed in the work place. Would you guess there is drama in the person who is harassed? How about the person who hears about a loved one who has been hit on? Plenty of drama there! You might feel more comfortable with the word “Passion” to describe the resolution or motivation to do something about the harassment. What torches drama in you? The greatest protest should be, “Please! Just no passivity!”

What are you hearing, feeling or sensing as “You do?”

What would you guess is God’s embedded desire drama, passion, purpose in you? Passion? Drama? Desire, passion, drama and all the synonyms are short-hand words for God’s plan, purpose and or call for you.

You were placed on this earth to provide a solution. It will be God’s solution through your spirit, soul, opportunities and hand.

“God shall give you the desires of your heart.” 62

HOW YOU ORGANIZE YOUR LIFE

When Jesus became the organizing element in my life I was seventeen, I became serious about one question: What am I called to do and where? When Carole and I married, that thought dominated us. I don’t think there was any deviation in our answers. During my Bible College years, everyone I hung out with was preparing for ministry. We felt called to be rescuers and healers. It was natural that we would project that same pattern on everyone. We asked our peers about their passion, Spiritual gifts, ministry destination. We had been forgiven and sent forth, We knew God uses wounded healers to heal others, therefore it was not only normal, it was a singular expectation. I “organized” my life—past, present and future around that question, but not intentionally. It would just happen, we thought.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about an early winter in our first pastorate. We had a broke-down car sitting in an old garage in the parsonage backyard. There are negative memories. I moved the car to an unheated garage that had a concrete floor. I took the engine out and installed a different one—all by myself, as I remember. This one thing I know from that experience is that my life was still organized around the wound—that arrow sticking out of my soul—mind, emotions, reactions.

I was about twenty-five years old, a grad of four years in Bible College education with an emphasis on healing and a year of pastoring experience. No one had a clue about the greatest element of “transformed by the renewing of your mind” that fit me. My world was small.

Carole and I organized our lives—not just our work—around our call, passion or desire. “This is the ministry we are called to” and every piece of our lives related to that call. It never occurred to us, nor did we know how to think in terms of life and not just ministry. We organized life and determined how we focused emotions, interaction and relationships around our work and wounds.

When we are unhealed, we organize our life around our wound or addiction. To outsiders, it looks like we are lost—just wandering around or underachieving. Sometimes just focused by self-interests. But when Jesus came in—or for some of us, when we were Baptized in the Holy Spirit—a new life-center was implanted around which we organized life—at least we knew something was supposed to happen. The default—how you spent your time, money and energy—soul stuff: how you thought, felt, acted—was supposed to change. We just overlayed the unhealed parts with different words and a deeper hunger.

You will inevitably organize your life around something. You will focus on something that will determine your use of time, money, energy, abilities, free-time, self-awareness and self-appraisal. Unless you know how to shift to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness…,” you and anyone you are mentoring, will organize thinking, habits, focus the chaos or purposelessness according to the “natural man” wiring and/or the aftermath of wounds like abandonment, assault, betrayal, wrong choices or that deficiency of what to do which is the inclination or process of “…transformed by the renewing of your mind… ” 61

What organizes your life? We have a friend whose life is organized by denial, avoidance and postponement. He loves the Lord, seeks to follow faithfully, but doesn’t know that some of us are “wired” that way. Those who succeed learn their natural bent and then learn how and determine to manage the bent spots. The bent-ness may be about habits learned, wounds or part of our personality which we cannot change. God created us and providentially placed us in a context where our pattern of organization will expand or constrict our peace, happiness and productivity. The bent spots will become strengths, but never automatically or naturally. God insists we participate in our own healing.

As I sat on my wife’s lovely front porch wrestling with the concepts in Todd Wilson’s book, More, I realized that my core identity was supposed to be more determining than my core ministry. Wilson says, “Use personal assessment tools…carefully.” Find out what is a weakness that needs forgiveness, attention or deliverance, and determine what is part of your person that needs management.

You might be wondering if I started to write a new book with a different topic here. No. Somewhere in the text, I talk about teaching the person in the ditch to keep his/her head down lest they take another arrow. It may not be complicated. Neither is it simple—as without effort.

I’m wondering why we are reluctant to take these personality assessments. I avoided them like they were pregnancy tests for men. I think I was terrified those questions had the power to invalidate me or tell me I’ve been wrong about everything since second grade.

Some of the assessment questionnaires that will help us find our fit—the next step after healing are: DISC, Myers Briggs, Strengths-Finders, Patterson Life Planning Process. Check for other tools at http://www.personalcalling.org. An additional questionnaire is found on the Alan Hirsch website. It is called APEST. Also look on the Forgotten Ways website (theforgottenways.org)

In simple terms, find out your default way to organize. If you resist this or neglect it, you will waste time, energy and opportunity. I know more than a few people who have missed their calling or abandoned their primary giftedness because they were fighting against themselves.

GET YOUR LIFE ORGANIZED

Buy an academic year calendar—16-months. In that calendar, you will have a monthly calendar, spaces for weekly and daily plans, commitments and what ideas float into your spirit and soul. I have no doubt that Arthur had something to write what he heard God say—“Make a drink….” Such a planner has room for “To Do” items such as bills to pay, appointments, engagements. There is room in the planner for short notes and ideas.

The scholastic calendar, whether digital or traditional, will become one of your most productive resources and treasures. Find the present week in your new calendar. Write at the top of the first page:  FOCUS

Listen to successful, productive, effective leaders and they will say,

“Whatever you choose to focus on—positive or negative—you will automatically move toward.”

“Whatever you think about the most is the direction your life will go.”

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”

Doesn’t it make sense that you build a daily routine and then guard it? I resisted because it seemed to kill the chance for spontaneity. Most of all I wanted to be free to “go” at a moments’ notice. I didn’t want anything to slow me down or be a barrier to the leading of the Spirit. That was horse hockey. I was lazy and afraid I wouldn’t get it right.

Of the books in my library on the subject, I urge you to first spend time with Make Your Dreams Bigger Than Your Memories,63 by Terri Savelle Foy. (Regal Books, 2010)

Ms. Foy tells us what works for her. It is do-able. She tells us how to focus the important stuff; how to make it our daily routine. Somewhere in that 16-month calendar you will determine what you need to focus on first. My guess it is to build a growth routine. A routine is inadequate. A routine may be nothing more than a rut. Be intentional about the daily routine that is productive.

That routine will depend upon what you choose your LifeFrame will be. You get to make that choice. You will make the choice based on your view of God. “How much more your Heavenly Father…” is a fine starting point. Looking back, I think I assume given my wounds and natural bent, God probably would design my life scrubbing septic tanks with a toothbrush. That is why we need we need a healthy tribe and those personality tests.

Last week we moved flowers and plants into my office for the winter. I placed one plant on the edge of my work table. In the week to ten days, the plant has grown a lead six to ten inches toward the window. That green lady is committed to reaching for the light. That is God’s plan for you!

Ms. Foy lists six life arenas to focus on daily. Militantly! Since these six topics are descriptive of your life, you are to become an expert as they apply to you. These are the arenas you must learn. As you focus, which needs attention? Do you need to know more about money management? How about self-soul care? Give it the time, attention and investment required to make you the expert on being you with stewardship opportunities. If you apply the attention demanded, they will become a place called home, an adventure of wholeness and a vision of destiny taking shape, texture and design.

  • Faith—my time with God, Bible study, mentor and coach time.
  • Family—my home life
  • Finances—learning about earning, giving, saving, spending
  • Fitness—health, personal care: diet, exercising
  • Friendships—time with those closest to me, tribe, pack and best friend.
  • Foreigners—Margin for those people who have no demand on your time.
  • Free time—playing, exercise, relaxing and personal growth. 64—Page 91

Write a place in your daily, weekly, monthly calendar for each. These are the seven pieces of your life you must study, learn and reach for the light.

How will I focus each of these today?64 Don’t be satisfied with writing “Faith” or” “fitness: in your calendar. Be specific:

  • What am I going to do during the appointment?
  • What do I want/need to accomplish during this time—today? This week? This season?
  • What is the most productive way to approach this?
  • When am I going to do this? Make an appointment.

The 16-month calendar will provide monthly, weekly and daily formats to organize and focus faith, family, finances, fitness, friendships and, free-time and what else is critical to you.

It is today.

It is impossible to personally know the isolation and depression Winston Churchill felt during portions of his life. Stalin received a delegation to Moscow led by Lady Astor. Stalin asked about Churchill, Her response was, “Churchill? Oh, he’s finished.”

The date was 1932.

Think of his leadership in the years that followed. Think of the library of books he wrote. How vacant history would be without him. Finished? Churchill organized himself around a goal, a plan and an iron will and proclaimed to the world: “Never, Never, Never give up!”

After all, It Is Today!

From my book to be published in January. It is a guidebook on ministering to the broken, bruised and baffled.