Eleven Nations or One World

There are eleven nations in North America each with its own culture, language, foods, economy and preferences–Pepsi or Coke. We studied the nine nations of North America during college. Colin Woodard’s thinking was on my Internet home page this morning. (http://www.colinwoodard.com/americannations).

We became very aware of this when we were on the road. Material that was viewed as powerful in Madison, Wisconsin was critiqued as boring in Colorado and Montana. Country act Alabama sing, “If you play in Texas, you’d better bring a fiddle and a bow.” That is a large statement. If you hope to influence or sell in one of the eleven, you better understand the culture.

Also this morning I listened to Art of Manliness Podcast (https://www.artofmanliness.com) which is one of my favorites. The guest was Franklin Foer author of the book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech. He posits that the most insidious threat to our nation is homogeneity and the primary actors are Facebook, Google and Amazon. Those three companies are becoming monopolies that could raise trust-buster Teddy Roosevelt from the grave. We assume that Facebook, Google and Amazon are businesses intending to make money. They also desire to “stitch” countries and cultures together into one thought, and one source of provisions. They have a political and cultural agenda which contradicts American individualism.

Since I was a boy in Bible Prophecy conferences, I’ve heard phrases like “One World Government.” I am wondering if this is the means by which that can happen—Mark of the Beast kind of stuff—ability to buy and sell, one mind.

I am not attributing motivation to the 3 High Tech companies. They may desire great things. I am concerned about the cost. It seems to me that we are in a battle of individualism against collectivism. I don’t want to suggest conspiracy. I am thinking about power concentrated in three entities and the consequences.

My purpose here is to call your attention to these two resources. I also want to suggest we duct tape to our mind Teddy Roosevelt’s concept of being first and foremost American. Developing the uniqueness of each “nation” and celebrating what they bring to the “United States” rather than tearing down their statues and diminishing the values they bring to us. We are, after all, The United States of America, not The One State of America.

There is no value in going to a pre-Internet, pre-iPhone world, even if we could. I invite you to listen to the Art of Manliness show and check the main points of the Eleven Nation thinking. Thanks.
©2018 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org


Access to Highly Favored?

I don’t know if I’m into heavy-duty OCD or if God is pushing me, but I feel driven. This started it:

“Greatly blessed, highly favored, imperfect, but forgiven child of God.”
(Larry Gatlin

What does that mean and how do you and I activate it? Ephesians 1:3 says “God…who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every blessing in Christ.” God Genesis 12:1-3 reveals the Abrahamic blessing which reaches to all the children of Abraham: “You are blessed…you will be a blessing”. Deuteronomy 28 expands that shorthand to include the physical, financial, business, breadbaskets, and every part of life. One key word opens the door: obedience. Are we hearing the right instructions to obey?

An article about Tanya Harding published today tells how she got into the mess. I’m not sure if getting saved would have been the total answer to that mess. Her salvation would have aligned her spirit with God, but her soul—mind, emotions, decision-making needed (needs) to be healed. When people hear me talking about wounds, I fear they are hearing “boo boos.” No, the wounds are Lizzy Borden kind of inflicted wounds. Ms. Harding’s interviewer says forgiveness is not expected by Tanya, but the ex-skater wants the world to understand how the survival mode afflicts people and how it affects her.

I drive through a section of our town which is not the slums, but untouched by the Kingdom. Drugs, working poor, and those of all ages who have settled for life below their dreams. A study from six or eight years ago revealed that those people tune into TV evangelists and religious programs at a remarkable rate higher than the state average. If they are followers of Jesus, they are blessed by virtue of that relationship. The ache in my soul is how do they make the “favored” part operational?

“Highly favored” is not just words in a song, it is a sterling biblical word. It describes how “blessing” moves into our social, business and street life. Bill Johnson (Bethel Church-Redding, California) teaches that favor is for those the blessed interact with. It has to trickle down or it is not God’s favor.

I keep asking how a church, para-church or non-profit can reach into that neighborhood and deliver a message and skill-set of greatly blessed, highly favored.

Yesterday, Eric Geiger posted “Who are the iGeneration and What Does Research Tell us?” They are the generation following Millennials. Sometimes called Gex x. Born in 1995 through 14-17 years post 1995. Today they are 6-23 years old. Jen Twenge’s book, iGen is the current definitive study. She lists these differences in iGen-ers:

1. Less reading
2. Less happiness
3. Less social skills
4. Less community
5. Less mental health
6. Less sleep
7. Less risks
8. Less altruism
9. Less hopeful
10. Less religious and less spiritual
11. Less emotionally connected
12. Less politically aligned. (For full article: EricGeiger.com)

Ages Six to twenty-three years are critical life-determining years. There is a measurable population of that age group living in the neighborhood I drive through. I wonder how to communicate and influence. Salvation means “Whole!” Not just rescue from hell, but living in the greatly blessed and highly favored tribe.

Of the twelve characteristics, I don’t see any reason the iGen-er would be interested or motivated except for those who are already unique and motivated. (I know outliers whose walk with Jesus and life-dreams contrast.) The twelve characteristics lead to more isolation, disconnection and fearful of and less trusting of outsiders. More depression, anxiety, non-curious and despair.

My soul is churning. That means my conclusions are shifting, but at this moment:
1. Discern what the controlling spirit of that neighborhood is.
2. Pray specifically that curiosity is awakened and heightened. Awakening is the operative word.
3. The “evangelists” learn not only the raw 12, but what lies behind those feelings and characteristics and speak to those felt needs in a safe place—probably not a church. Maybe a church functioning as a coffee house or community center. Beyond the “less” there will be desires, wants and longings.

Highly favored means, endorsed by God, access to resources, support, advantages, assistants to accomplish vision, productive efforts.

Heavenly Father, you desire your lost children to be found. Call laborers into this field. Implant a vision of transformed and anointed iGens. I ask you will grant favor to those evangelists with an natural entrée of influence into the iGens. Teach us strategies. Thank you.

©2018 D. Dean Benton to continue this discussion: dean@deanbenton.org

Target: Middle School

I received a comment yesterday about a Benton Quest House blog in August, 2016—“What Is it About 4?”

The comment: “There is a great ministry in Texas called Academy 4, which provides mentoring and character coaching to 4th grade students.”

I appreciated the comments at the original blog publication. It is great to see a church which is specializing with 4th graders. They work in public schools.

The link to their website is: http://www.academy4.net

Genesis says that God chose Abram because He knew Abram would teach his children. I’m sorry the Bible does not include the curriculum God expected Abram/Abraham to use. In my work in progress—Meanderings—I have included my view of what such a program might look like. Academy 4 shows what works for them.

I’ve been consulting with a church about focusing their mission on a niche that will include a stream of unchurched and under employed Jesus followers. How about 4th graders? Or 4-5-6—middle school—or 3-4-5. “Touch the head of a child and reach the heart of a family.”

Original Benton blog:

We are building a octagon-shaped building at SouthWood. There are education/seminar/experience rooms surrounding a performance center. Each room is constructed to equip a middle schooler to grow in specifics that touch their lives. The building is revealed in my 2018 book The Carafe Mission.

2018–The year of mission.
(c)2017 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Taste of Gladness

There was just enough left on my Starbucks gift card from last Christmas for a white chocolate mocha. (Thanks!) I took it to the car in the sun to seek God, enjoy the warmth and let the white chocolate bless me.

I’ve been reading Mark Batterson’s book, Whisper—How to Hear the Voice of God, (Multnomah, 2017) Batterson quotes Fred Buechner:

“The voice we should listen to most as we choose vocation is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us the gladdest?…I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it a good thing and it is our thing.”

Batterson adds, “It is a God thing.”

Voice of our own gladness. That throws a bright light on the subject. Pleasant. Delicious. And a huge clue. That ranks right up there with white chocolate. And God is into gladness. Merry Christmas.

©2017 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Exemplary Men

My soul is hurting today for Matt Lauer and all his indiscretion affects. We live in an age of Jezebel. This non-gender spirit is one of the multi-age, anti-God spirits—one of the top hierarchy generals of satan’s army. Through history, this spirit has been about taking out leaders of government, business, church. Illicit sex is one of Jezebel’s tools.

I’m trying to make sense of what is happening beyond lust. On the surface, it appears to me we are seeing the depravity of man acting out. Where there is unguarded power, there will be abuse. Fame and fortune attracts groupies. Given my suspicions about conspiracy, I wonder why all of these accusations are surfacing at this point. What is crucial at this time in history that men have to be diminished? Temptation and bad choices come with a hook in the bait. Men are responding to something and now their behavior is being displayed. Why at this time? Again, excuse my conspiracy hunting. This is one more in a series of attacks to diminish men. Statues, attacks on unarmed men, extreme displays of demonic expression of depravity.

We are seeing the end throes of what the sexual revolution began. It went main stream with the Clinton era and then the routine and ritualistic removal of all boundaries, civility and proper discourse. Sexual sin has been with us in higher places of power since the Cavemen painted porn on cave walls. We’ve had morally corrupt politicians and in every industry and institution. Now, we have it on display via technology and in full view and main stream. I suspect what we are witnessing is the inevitable outcome of men and women acting naturally without inner boundaries and sharply tuned empathy.

Given my recent study and writing about Abraham and Sarah, I spent time studying and thinking about Sodom and Gomorrah. God heard the cries of some group and went to Sodom to see it first hand. His destruction of the Cities of the Plains came as result of those “cries.” It is clearly possible that God has heard the cries of the abused and in response to these prayers and pain, He is blasting the darkness away so all can see in the Light what has been hidden.

My wife believes this is the first step in a Great Awakening. The first step in every such event is repentance of recognized sin.

Lauer has taken on fixing what he has broken as a full-time job. He’ll need outside help. My immediate reaction was to ask where he could go for emotional healing, God’s forgiveness and the skills to ask forgiveness and then skills to live from a different core. I want to say “The Church,” but the Church and local churches have lost credibility with the scandals and revelations of predatory behavior.

I have spent a lot of years thinking through what a local church with the mission of restoration of predators, abusers, harassers, would look like. What if a church saw itself called to speak into the souls of kids of divorce? What about being a safe place for the Monica Lewinskys and being channels of God’s healing for women who experience daily the fear and assumptions that Zoe—the dog with long eye lashes—feels?

Whatever is going on in our world and neighborhoods, this is the time to build godly and great men. Three things are pushing me.

1. Personal evaluation.
2. Selection of one high profile “fallen” person to pray for as well as their victims.
3. Decision how you will build great men by participating in their healing and skill-building.
Resources that are currently stimulating me:

1. Stephen Mansfield’s http://greatman.tv/greatman-podcast/

The November podcasts spoke to me:
“The Power of Story.”
“The Power of a Man’s Words.”
“Every Man’s Battle.”

2. The Art of Manliness Podcast: A recent interview:

3. The principles of Emotional Intelligence.

Thank you.
©2017 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Thanksgiving–Inventory Day

Happy Thanksgiving—Inventory Day. I take holidays seriously. Monday was World Toilet Day, so I installed a new toilet. The lid closes automatically and it has its own fan. We will issue a brochure to our guests so they can thoroughly benefit from its functions.

I want to get Thanksgiving right.

A long-time friend sent a quote to me. It was the first thing I read this morning:

You aren’t the mistakes you’ve made. You aren’t the labels that have been put on you. And you aren’t the lies the Enemy has tried to sell you. You are who God says you are. – Mark Batterson

About the time my doctor put me on a new med, I gained absolute recall of every mistake I ever made from age 6 days. For a year I’ve been battered and making lists. When I thought I had confessed them all AGAIN and asked forgiveness, I began to be reminded of decisions and actions that others thought were my mistakes. It has felt like a spiritual attack by the accuser. Then I wondered if they were coming to mind so I could make them right or apologize. Can’t—too late. I don’t want you want to think I should be wearing white and black striped clothing—I didn’t shoplift anything in China. I don’t have a secret child in Idaho someplace. But regrets—I have some. (Editor’s note: regrets, not secret kids.)

My friend’s post captured me. It’s not new information, but sure feels like a gift and a direct message from The Father. I look at my list of thanks and redemption is high on the list. Forgiveness, personal growth and self-awareness.

Michael Card writes in his song, “The Things We Leave Behind,”

“Every heart needs to be set free from possessions that hold it so tight
And we can’t imagine the freedom from the things we’ve left behind.”
Sparrow Records (1994) from album “Poeima

You are who God says you are. It’s time to leave the mistakes, labels, self-accusations behind–out with the other bones. You are a “greatly bless, highly favored, forgiven child of God.” Thanksgiving!
You are who God says you are—Thank you, Jesus. Keep reminding me.

©2017 D. Dean Benton

Go Forth and Build Trust

Our daughter has a miniature, white and apricot Labradoodle with two inch long eye lashes. She is a sweet dog who is afraid of men. She was rescued from a puppy mill where it appears she was abused by a man or men. It has taken her a year to take a treat from my hand, is afraid of my feet and hides if I raise my voice. She has one basic belief—people are not to be trusted.

The other day while I was lying down, she joined me on the couch and allowed me to pet her and liked it so much she begged for more. An hour later when I met her in the kitchen, she ran from me and would not take a treat from my hand or allow me close enough to pet her. As long as I’m lying down or sitting she comes close to be touched and talked to. She likes to put her head on my leg and ask me to pet her even if the velveteen comes off.

Doesn’t take a PH.D. to discern Zoe was scolded ferociously, struck by a male hand and perhaps kicked. She has a short memory. She and I seem to start from zero each morning as if she doesn’t remember the feel of my hand massaging her ears and neck.

She is about five years old; free from a small prison cage about a year and half. She loves the world of outdoors, but only if Debi is close by. She is excited about the freedom, but overwhelmed by the vastness of outdoorsland.

I love that dog. If she were mine, I would have to get a pickup to have her ride on the seat with me. I would like to see her learning day by day that some people can be trusted. Deprived of trust is a terrible loss for man or beast.

Andy Andrews’ friend Mac Richard from Austin has recently published “The Trust Protocol.” He sees trust as “The key to stronger families, teams and businesses.”

I’ve been spending a lot of brain cells thinking how to bridge the gaps between America races, cultures, generations, political opinions. Because difference builds ratings and sells newspapers, the differences get attention. I have scraped through the debris in my brain asking the reason for the lack of friends from the other side of the aisle. At base I don’t trust them.

In my new church we will focus on relationships, worship, mission. To accomplish that we will find ways to build trust—one on one. I am building a strategy.

“Attachment trauma” mimics PTSD with roots in abandonment, abuse, neglect, and other spiritual, sexual, physical, emotional, verbal maltreatment.
“For trauma survivors, trust is earned over time, not afforded by title or position,” says Krispin Mayfield a Licensed Professional Counselors who provides therapy for teens and adults.

Zoe and some of my friends need some “over time” time and a safe, welcome table under which they will put their feet.

Come put your feet under our table. (Or ride in my pickup.) A place to learn to trust.
©2017 D. Dean Benton Dean@deanbenton.org


Listening to Carlos Whittaker on a podcast while on the treadmill, which is next to a window at eye level. I listen to podcasts intently and look blankly out the window.

Carlos told of going to a 7-day therapy camp. His therapist had suggested it, but Carlos didn’t know the purpose—he thought he was moving forward. He called his dad on the way to the camp and reluctantly told him where he was going. Finally, his dad told Carlos a story about preaching a revival. He invited people who needed prayer to come to the altar. A lady came forward for prayer. “Will you pray God will clean the cobwebs from my life?” Whittaker Senior was stimulated by the phrase and used it as he prayed. The next night the woman came to the altar again to ask “Will you pray God will clean the cobwebs from my life?” Mr. Whitaker was a bit surprised by the exact request but prayed the prayer of cleansing. The third night of the revival the same woman asked the same thing. “Will you pray God will clean the cobwebs from my life?”
“No, I won’t. Tonight I am going to pray to kill the spider!”

The father said “Carlos, you’ve been an excellent example of cleaning the cobwebs from your life. This is your opportunity to kill the spider.”

Carlos talked about looking past “webs” and dealing with the source. “The Holy Spirit will come and snatch that spider—remove the cause.”

I was lost in the story. I was vaguely aware there was a large spider on the windowscreen. I was concentrating on the story and the blankness out on the lawn. Suddenly a bright red Cardinal swooped in, grabbed the spider, and was gone. I’ve never seen that happen before. I didn’t even know that cardinals ate spiders.

With the appearance of that bright red bird, an already fantastic story became very personal. Hardly coincidental. God has something to talk to me about and an invitation to deal with spiders.

©2017 D. Dean Benton Dean@DeanBenton.org

Carlos Whittaker has a new book “Kill The Spider.” He also does the audio book reading—and he does it well. His podcast is terrific. If you want to follow up, check out his website for links.

Last Time I Visited First Grade

This was first posted when our college freshman granddaughter was in first grade.

Carole worked as a teacher’s aide some years ago. Our daughter has picked up the mantle. One of the true high points of my life was the weekly lunch dates at school when I ate with Carole and her class. They would ask, “Mrs. Benton is your Daddy coming to eat lunch today?”

First grade granddaughter invited me to eat lunch with her. I went early to visit her classroom. We have become acquainted with her teacher for whom we pray and like a lot. We have gotten to know some of the kids thru Hannah’s reports of who got into trouble and which kid cried and which one was sick. Hannah is a missionary to first grade. I’ve watched her encourage a kid on the playground, and I’ve seen her put her hand on the shoulder of a little girl who was crying for her mom. The morning drive to school includes blessing of each other. (I blessed Hannah today: “I bless you with a day without wedgies.” That appears to be a universal first grade concern. She blessed me with a day without offensive coffee breath.) It also includes praying for specific kids in her class who struggle, hurt or are in constant trouble.

Carole and Debi have kid magnets under their skin. They attract first graders. I watched as boys and girls rushed to hug Carole. What surprised me was the kids who got lost and found themselves coming to me to ask my name and to tell me life stories. A couple of them hugged me. I came away a little shaken by the raw, open need and how much a bit of attention will pay. A girl said to me, “You’re nice.” I was self-conscious about that. Where’d she get that idea and why hasn’t she told some of the adults in my world?

Carole says that Levi always hugs her. I watched as several of the kids hugged her. I didn’t need a spiritual gift of discernment to see that she was a safe place for them and invested something in them that they weren’t getting anyplace else.

I could never make it through first grade. All the rules!! So many rules! If you can successfully negotiate first grade, you’ve got it made.

We’ve been evaluating Hannah’s voice and reminding her to use her “indoor voice.” I decided the other day that Hannah’s voice has the texture of a kidney stone. It can cut through a diamond. Now I know why. We had a terrific lunch. I failed first grade lunch line. Only with the help of two adults and two kind first graders did I make it to the table with the hamburger, sack of carrots, a carton of white milk and a cookie. That’s when I learned rules about eating lunch. The noise level in the cafeteria will cause ear damage. Hannah instructed me about tray clearing and struck terror in me as I contemplated what would happen if I put the paper refuse in the wrong bin. Two rules especially seem to be most important. First, you can’t scream at kids at the next table. That seemed unlikely since communicating with people at our own table demanded screaming. The second important rule was that throwing hamburger buns at the next table was also not allowed. It was at the point of instruction that the wheels started to come off. Hannah was so serious and punishment so palpable, I allowed my smile to break into a chuckle which got totally out of control. Then Carole caught the giggle bug. There are no rules about laughing at lunch. We would have been busted for sure.

This is not my first trip to the lunchroom. Each time, I want to thank the lunch ladies for speaking each kid’s name and treating them with affection and dignity. Parents who never visit classrooms or eat lunch with the first graders haven’t a clue the investment the teachers make in their kids. (Hannah’s teacher spends her own money to buy school supplies. Who would guess that?) The noise I can live without, but two events made me glad to be alive: The laughter and Joseph. Joseph wears a left ear ring, dirty shirt and likes martial arts. He followed me thru the lunch line and asked if he could sit with me. He must have thought I needed the special attention.

Oh God! Be with the Josephs and Levis today. And fortify the teachers. All of them. Every grade.

Copyright 2017 D. Dean Benton Dean@DeanBenton.org

Want Fries with your Hemlock Sandwich?

Trying to take seriously the 4-principle test for communication: True? Kind? Necessary? Clear? Something in the Ethernet world grinds on me about the “Sandwich” Test. I’ll try—true, kind, necessary, clear.

A young Australian wife/mother asked her closed Facebook network (26,000) what they put in their husbands brown bag lunch. She was charged with—“Making a sandwich for your husband is a crime against feminism” and setting feminism back several decades. She was labeled as “a slave and a 1950s housewife.” The daughter of a professional feminist (article author’s phrase) said and published upon finding she was pregnant with a boy: “I felt sick at the thought of something male growing inside of me.”

The spirit of the replies is captured by this: “I was married for 20 years and my favourite packed lunch for my husband was called ‘Get it yourself’ with a side order of ‘I’m not your mother.’”

I can’t quite get a handle on what has been set loose in me by this. Let me be straight with you. I never ask my wife to make me a sandwich. The truth is I love it when she does because she makes a much better sandwich that I do. She adds garnish and care. It is not about bread and baloney; it expresses appreciation and concern for my well-being. My step-mother won my heart with the care she put into peanut butter sandwiches she made for me. Carole’s sandwiches just taste better. Her observation may say it all: “Obviously, these women have not yet met a man for whom she wants to offer the best….”

If feminism rests on the legal scales of a sandwich, the sandwich is a non-issue. It is about hatred for men and the desire that men be erased from the earth. If this defines feminism, then burn your membership card. It marginalizes feminism and makes it an example of worst stereotype.

There is a slice of meanness in me that wants to declare, If wife or any female would say the nasty things about me and sandwiches, I would pack my jar of Skippy peanut butter and sourdough bread in my briefcase and leave the building.

Andy Stanley preached this weekend about “Women submit…husbands love…” from Ephesians 5. Both admonishments were as subversive and counter-culture as anything in the First Century world. Stanley says we are challenged to “Rush to the back of the line.” Not everyone is required to seek to serve each other, just followers of Jesus and those who desire to maintain a great marriage.

While studying Abraham and his women—Sarah and Hagar—I have understood why Sarah might say, “Fix your own falafel” There are boorish men who earn the kind of contempt that the women above might revert to. What I’m reading in this 21st Century Sandwich hostility is contempt and hatred for all males. That does not end well historically for anyone—for individuals, cultures and nations.

Please allow me: Guys, if you want female fingerprints on your sandwich, go to the pantry several times over the next fifteen minutes. Look around—360—up and down and make a low moan/whimper, then leave the pantry with a loud sign. A loving wife will become concerned and will say, “Can I make you a sandwich?” If that doesn’t work, go to Arby’s.

©2017 D. Dean Benton Dean@Deanbenton.org