Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a deacon dad walking humbly & seeking justice

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Hate hardens hearts.
Fear narrows minds.
Bigotry slams doors.

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Sermon: The Game of Life

This was my last sermon at Peakland United Methodist. I preached on Luke 7:36-8:3. This audio is from the Horizons Praise service, where we watched a YouTube video of a 1960’s commercial for the board game, The Game of Life. You can also listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.

To the Class of 2016

I was invited to participate in the Baccalaureate service for EC Glass on June 5, 2016. This is what I shared. 

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

This is a season of celebrations. And you have a lot to celebrate – the final concerts, the final games, the final plays, the final exams. There are classrooms you will never walk into again. You have finished, and in doing so accomplished a lot, and that is worthy of celebration.

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Loving God, Loving Each Other

The following is the note I wrote for Peakland Pages, the monthly newsletter at Peakland United Methodist in Lynchburg. 

In a seminary class we were asked to identify five theological rocks that grounded our ministry. These “rocks” were to be the things behind why we did what we did in ministry. I could only think of two: love God and love each other. For me, this is the bottom line of the gospel.

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Giveaway: Mother & Son

Mother-and-Son-The-Respect-EffectMother & Son: The Respect Effect, Emerson Eggerichs, W Publishing Group, 2016

Mother & Son is a new book from Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect. Through his Love and Respect conferences, Eggerichs focuses on marital relationships. In this new book, Eggerichs turns his attention to the mother and son relationship.

As the subtitle suggests, Eggerichs proposal is that while it is important for a mother to show love to her son, showing him respect is key to his heart. Eggerichs suggests and coaches how respect-talk can transform the mother-son relationship.

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Sermon: Trouble Maker

Here is the audio of my sermon from May 29, 2016 at Peakland United Methodist Church. The text was Galatians 1:1-12, Luke 7:1-10, and 1 Kings 18:20-39.  You can also listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.

Giveaway: Bearing Witness book

51C0M7mo0fL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Bearing Witness: Stories of Martyrdom and Costly Discipleship, Charles E. Moore & Timothy Keiderling, editors, Plough Publishing House, 2016.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” -Jesus of Nazareth

This quote is an appropriate one to begin a collection of stories featuring those who were persecuted because of their faith. And not talking about the elected public official who cried persecution when they refused to do their job. Nor the company that cries persecution because the law requires them to provide services to a gay couple. Nor do I mean the white man who cries persecution when a woman chooses to get an abortion.

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Giveaway: ESV Family Devotional Bible

ESV-Family-Devotional-BibleStudies have shown that the most influential person for a young person’s faith is his or her parents. The ESV Family Devotional Bible aims to help families read and study scripture.

This hard back Bible includes the entire English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. A fairly new translation, in the midst of quite a few to choose from, the ESV is not all that different from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). The ESV seems to have been presented as an alternative to the traditionally used King James Version.

The ESV Family Devotional Bible includes 130 key stories retold, along with questions and a key verse. There are colorful illustrations for each devotion as well. At first the illustrations were a bit nostalgic, as they reminded me of the pictures in the story Bible at my grandparents’ home. I’m not sure, however, they would be the most kid-friendly today.

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Book Review: Fear of the Other

cover87517-mediumFear of the Other: No Fear in Love, William H. Willimon, Abingdon Press, 2016.

True to form, Bishop Willimon approaches theological themes in a no-nonsense and gutsy matter. This little book (less than 100 pages) is the Bishop’s response to the rhetoric of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. “If not for them,” Willimon writes, “I would not have been asked to write this book.”

Willimon shows no fear in addressing current social topics. He covers it all. The desire for a bigger wall across the border to keep out Hispanics. The call to keep Muslims out of the country. The exclusion of LGBT individuals in the life of the church. And, he even takes on Jerry Falwell, Jr.

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Wait. What’s a Deacon?

This was originally published in the April 2016 issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate. The focus of this issue was the 20th Anniversary of the Order of Deacon. 

A group of church leaders had gathered for a meeting. The district superintendent mentioned the possibility of hiring a deacon to help the congregation reach beyond the church walls. A woman sitting across the table looked back at the DS with a quizzical expression. “Wait,” she said, “What’s a deacon?”

It’s not the first time that question has been asked. For twenty years, the United Methodist Church has been struggling to articulate the answer, “What’s a deacon?”

I welcome these questions. When I first experienced my call to ministry and I was told about the ministry of the deacon, that was my response. I had never heard of an ordained deacon. While I felt a strong call to ordained ministry, it did not look like the pastor of a church. But, I had no words to express what it did look like.

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