Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Book Review: Captain Monty Takes the Plunge

Captain Monty Takes the Plunge, Jennifer Mook-Sang, Kids Can Press, 2017.

In this fun children’s book, Monty the Malodorous has a well-kept secret. He cannot swim.

To hide his secret, Monty declares that “Real pirates don’t bathe! Yar-har-har!”

But the not taking a bath thing catches up with him. Monthy falls in love with Meg the mermaid. It is Meg who tells him, “You’re a real nice pirate, Monty, but you smell like stinky boots.” Monty begins to consider rethinking his avoidance of contact with water.

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Book Review: Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God

 Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News, Brian Zahnd, Waterbrook, 2017.

Brian Zahnd has been on a theological and spiritual journey. And thankfully, he has taken any who are willing to go, with him. Much of this journey has been documented in his earlier books and through his sermons at Word of Life Church.

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God continues to take us on this journey. Here Zahnd turns a traditional theological understanding of a vengeful God on its head. That is, the idea that God has utter contempt for humankind that was introduced by Jonathan Edwards in 1741.

Edwards’ sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, which I read for the first time in an American Lit class in college, is the main vehicle of this idea. A Puritan classic, the sermon is one of the prominent influences on American evangelicalism. Zahnd provides plenty of quotes from Edwards’ sermon in the opening chapter as he prepares the reader for the shift he is about to make.

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YouTubevotional: Be Thankful

Introduction

Some days it is hard to be thankful. When the news is dominated by shootings, the threat of war, and political anything, we are challenged to be thankful. Yet, studies show that the more thankful we are, it not only makes us a better person, but we are healthier for it.

Kid President shares 25 reasons to be thankful in this video. At first, some of them may strike you as childish. But listen to his explanation for them.

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Book Review: 365 Classic Bedtime Bible Stories

365 Classic Bedtime Bible Stories: Inspired by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible, Barbour Publishing, Inc., 2017.

Rev. Jesse Lyman Hurlbut (1843-1930) was a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Born in New York City, Hurlbut pastored churches in New Jersey including in Newark, Montclair, Paterson, Plainfield, Hoboken, Morristown, Orange, and Bloomfield.

Hurlbut was a contributor to the Sunday school and tract work of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He served as secretary of the Epworth League from 1889-1892. He also served as a District Superintendent of the Newark District.

Hurlbut was a prolific writer.  His Story of the Bible was written to help children become familiar with the stories of the Bible. These retelling of Old and New Testament stories were written for children ages six and older.

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Book Review: A Stick Until . . .

A Stick Until . . . , Constance Anderson, Star Bright Books, 2017.

The story starts off quite simply with a stick. From here, we see the many different ways a stick can be used by various animals. A stick is a fly swatter. It is a gift and a toy.

A stick is a stick until it is not.

This clever children’s book shows children that something as simple as a stick can be used in creative and innovative ways. The colorful illustrations are a great addition.  Plus they provide a discussion starter for the parent and child or teacher and student.

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Giveaway: Maverick and Me

Katherine Schwarzenegger, the eldest daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, uses her own experience in pet adoption in her children’s book Maverick and Me.

Maverick is a puppy who is left alone under a freeway underpass on a rainy day. A woman finds him and takes care of him until a pet adoption event. Enter a girl named Scarlett and her mom. They come to the pet supply store to get a gift for a friend’s cat. Scarlett falls in love with Maverick. Eventually, mom agrees to adopt the pup.

Schwarzenegger, an ASPCA Ambassador, has a simple and clear goal – to draw attention to “all the other dogs just like Maverick that needed homes too.”

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Book Review: Moses

Moses: In the Footsteps of the Reluctant Prophet, Adam Hamilton, Abingdon Press, 2017.

In Moses, Adam Hamilton retraces the footsteps of Moses, whom Hamilton argues is the “single most influential person in the Hebrew Bible.” While he blends historical facts and reflections on visiting sites, Hamilton steadies the course that there is much to learn from this reluctant prophet.

Moses is equal parts history, theology, and commentary. Taking a serious look at Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the reader is invited to consider what he or she can learn from the Moses narrative. I am careful here because it is not just Moses’ life that offers implications for our own. It is the also the people around him.

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YouTubevotinal: Trick or Treat

YouTubevotionals are designed to be used in personal devotion time, with small groups, youth groups, or Sunday school classes. To see other YouTubevotionals, click here

Introduction

In the 1952 Disney short, Witch Hazel observes from her broom as Huey, Dewey, and Louie ring the doorbell of their Uncle Donald’s house. Donald has decided to trick the boys instead of giving treats. Donald is having fun with it, but Hazel feels sorry for the three boys. She attempts to get a treat from Donald, but he only offers a trick.

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Book Review: Shelter

Shelter, Céline Claire, Qin Leng (illustrator) Kids Can Press, 2017.

Claire’s picture book is a parable for children. In the story, a storm is coming. All the animals seek shelter in their homes. Little Fox is the only character that wonders about the animals who may be stuck in the storm.

A bear parent and child are stuck in the storm. They go from home to home looking for shelter. Each family turns them away. “Try the neighbor”, they all say.

Including Little Fox’s family. Unable to accept the outcome, Little Fox runs after the bears to give them a lantern to guide their search for shelter.

As fate would have it, the snow from the storm weighs down on the foxes den, and the family barely makes it out before their den collapses. The Fox family is able to find their way to where the bears have built an igloo. The foxes knock and ask for shelter for the night. Unlike their response to the bears, the bears welcome the family in.

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Book Review: Who Counts?

Who Counts? 100 Sheep, 10 Coins, and 2 Sons, Amy-Jill Levine & Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Westminster John Knox Press, 2017.

 Fred Craddock, a New Testament scholar, refers to the three “lost” parables in Luke 15 as “Three Parables of Joy.” He writes, “The three parables of chapter 15 are a trilogy in that all three speak of the joy of finding that which was lost.”

Amy-Jill Levine, a professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, a rabbi and Director of Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Bulter University and Christian Theological Seminary, give readers a fresh take on the familiar parables in Luke 15 in Who Counts? These stories of Jesus are retold in modern-day settings and with modern, diverse characters.

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