Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a deacon dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Category: Devotions (page 1 of 31)

Book Review: Down to Earth

Down to EarthDown to Earth: The Hopes & Fears of All the Years Are Met in Thee Tonight, Mike Slaughter & Rachel Billups, Abingdon Press, 2016.

In this book for the Advent season, pastors Mike Slaughter and Rachel Billups explore what it means for love, joy, peace, and hope to come down to Earth. The book accompanies a four-week Advent study that opens up Christmas to examine how one helpless baby changed everything.

What makes this a great read during Advent this year, is how relevant it is to current events. While it was written before we had two primary presidential candidates or even an election, reading it post-election is food for the soul. Slaughter and Billups acknowledge that we put too much attention on the wrong things. They write, “Or in arguing about things such as red cups, sexual identity issues, who we voted for, and where refugees should go, are we allowing these issues to create dividing lines between us?”

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YouTubevotional: Mary Knew

crafts_14816bcIntroduction

In 1996 the song “Mary, Did You Know?” written by Mark Lowry, was released. Since then, it has become a Christmas standard, sung by various artists and church choirs. Lowry had pondered questions he would ask Mary if he had the chance to sit down and talk to her. Buddy Greene put music to those questions. It is hard to find a version of the song that is different. In the video below, the Singing Contractors stop their work to sing.

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YouTubevotinal: Bed Sheets

Simon Tofield Simon's Cat for Magazine interview. 24 October 2009

Simon Tofield Simon’s Cat for Magazine interview. 24 October 2009

Introduction

Changing the bed sheets is one of those necessary chores. You watch the sheets, take the old sheets off the bed, and then put the warm, clean sheets on the bed. Putting clean sheets on the bed just right can be a change all its own. Add a curious cat, and it becomes even more challenging.

Simon’s Cat has a collection of short films on YouTube. The most recent film is called Bed Sheets.

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YouTubevotional: No Toys?

Introduction

It is that time of year. We have given thanks for the blessings of life, gathered around a table full of food, family, and friends. Now, we are putting up Christmas trees, lights, and stockings . . .with care. We have made lists (and checked them twice) of the things we want for Christmas. In this classic clip from The Brady Bunch, Cindy waits to tell Santa what we wants for Christmas.

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YouTubevotional: Thanksgiving Dinner

turkey_5333cnIntroduction

In a few short days, families will be gathered around tables full of food for Thanksgiving. Some, like Rev. Tom Berlin, have wondered what this year’s Thanksgiving would hold after a stressful and contentious election. You can read Tom’s thoughts here. 

Last year, during the primary season, it felt just as contentious. Saturday Night Live‘s sketch “A Thanksgiving Miracle” explored this same wondering. What could unite a divided family? What could stop the arguments across the table? SNL‘s miracle worker was the popular singer Adele, whose latest album was released at the same time.

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Noah Galloway, Persistence, and Grace

Admit it, you have them.

You have those days where no matter how hard you try, nothing seems to work. Relationships aren’t on par. Work stress is so overwhelming it is blinding. The overall anxiety of society is enough to make you sick. Oh, yeah, and you have a toddler.

These days carry with them a vast amount of emotions from moment to moment. We experience anger, grief, sorrow all within five minutes. The chains of anxiety result in suffering. The shackles of stress issue depression.

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YouTubevotional: Homeless Vets

homeless_7298cIntroduction

In high school I remember learning that a high percentage of the homeless in the United States were Gulf War veterans. This shocked, and caused my deacon’s heart to ache. Similarly, my heart would ache win I would hear stories about veterans not getting the best of treatment from the Veterans Affairs. There are so many things that are often overlooked when it comes to our veterans. When we consider the time, the sacrifices, the injuries seen and unseen, they deserve better.

The television show, Beverly Hills, 90210 covered this topic in 1993. One of the characters, Brandon, meets a homeless vet on the beach one summer. The homeless man, Jack, served in the first Gulf War. When he returned home, he found himself homeless. Later in the season, Brandon meets Jack again in the midst of a massive rain storm. Brandon takes the man to a homeless shelter, but Jack is unable to assimilate. In response, Brandon takes Jack to his home to meet his family.

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YouTubevotional: Election Day

ballot-box-bunny-bigger-stickThis is the first of what I hope will be a weekly occurrence. YouTubevotionals are for personal devotional time, or for use in a small group, youth group, or a Sunday school class. -JCS

Introduction

It has been a long – long –  election season. It will soon be over, as citizens head to the polls on Tuesday to cast their votes. The 1951 Looney Tunes cartoon Ballot Box Bunny is eerily similar to this election season. The cartoon may help us explore the impact of the election season and think about leadership.

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Prayer: Foggy Days

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” – the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10, NIV)

Lord, today is a foggy day.  We aren’t fans of foggy days. We have places to go, and the fog only slows us down.

Lord, you know that foggy days are a lot of things.

Depression and anxiety.  Continue reading

The Ten: Be Truthful

“Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16, Common English Bible)

tablets_9750cIn an episode titled “Greater Good,” from the first season of the drama-comedy Boston Legal, Alan Shore (James Spader) and Denny Crane (William Shatner) represent a large, drug company in a civil suit. The two lawyers disagree on a key ethical issue surrounding the lies about a clinical trial for a new drug.

The doctor who participated in the clinical trial is conflicted. Shore wants her to be truthful about the potential harm the new drug may have caused its patients. Crane, on the other hand, wants her to be quiet about it. Shore reminds the doctor that when she testifies in court, she will be under oath. Mr. Shore’s intention, of course, is to persuade the doctor to speak truth.

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