Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

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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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Book Review: Whole

Whole: Restoring What is Broken in Me, You, and the Entire World, Steve Wiens, NavPress, 2017.

We do not have to look far to see just how broken the world is. It seems that almost daily the news is reporting on another shooting, another disaster, another event that gives us pause. It could be argued that the world is broken because we who make up the world are broken too.

There is brokenness all around us.

It is in this context that Steve Wiens writes his beautiful and relevant book Whole. Wiens is not afraid to call attention to the jagged edges of his own life, and the world.

Since reading his book, I have been following him on Twitter, and he does the same there. The Wiens we meet in the pages of Whole seems to be the real thing.

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Book Review: The Elephant Keeper

The Elephant Keeper: Caring for Orphaned Elephants in Zambia, Margriet Ruurs, Pedro Covo (illustrator), Kids Can Press, 2017.

Margriet Ruurs and Pedro Covo give a fresh look at some of the planet’s largest land mammals – the elephant.

A True Story

Ruurs brings to the pages the real-life story of a Zambian boy Aaron who discovers an infant elephant in the Lion’s Lodge swimming pool. Thanks to Aaron’s attentiveness and efforts, the young elephant is rescued and taken to a local elephant orphanage.

Aaron is able to make a connection with the elephant that others are not. Grieving the death of his father Aaron can relate to the orphaned elephant. The boy finds himself growing up sooner than other boys in his village. The elephant has likely lost its mother to poachers. The elephant and the boy have to figure how to do life differently.

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Giveaway: Jeremy Camp CD

Jeremy Camp, the Indiana-born Christian artist, has released a new album, The AnswerThe album as a whole seems to be ordained for such a time as this. With the brokenness and darkness, we see in the world on a daily basis, a message of hope and light is needed.

And a reminder that Jesus is the answer.

In the title track, ‘The Answer,” Camp speaks to the questions, hurt and pain that is in our own lives and in the world today. If you watch the official video you will meet individuals who have gone through darkness and pain in their lives and have found light and joy, including Camp himself. The message of the song is clear, Jesus is the answer to the questions of life.

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YouTubevotional: Sharing Our Faith

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

Evangelism has become a dirty word. So dirty that some Christians dare not speak of the “e-word.”

Too often when we think of evangelism, we concur up images of standing on the street corner handing out tracts, street preaching, yelling at passer-bys, or aggressively converting people to our way of being Christian. Personal space and experiences are not typically respected. Unfortunately, these kinds of things do not always represent the saving love of Jesus Christ.

Yet, at the same time, mainline churches have been in a state of decline. We look out at the empty pews and wonder, “How will we fill these pews?” We know we should invite people to church. We know we should be engaging our community. We know we should be doing more. But what? How?

The following video presents a few ways not to.

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Book Review: Middle Bear

Middle Bear, Susanna Isern, Kids Can Press, 2017.

Middle Bear is the second of three brothers. When the brothers go out into the forest to do various errands, Middle Bear is either too big or too small to be of any help. His older and younger brother both seem to be the right size. But Middle Bear seems to always be in the middle.

He seems to go unnoticed. And he longs to be different, to be as special as his brothers.

Susanna Isern’s little book is perfect for children to may seem that there is no place for them. And it is great for helping children experience some empathy for the child who reads alone or who cries because of his or her sadness.

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Guest Post: A Bucket of Hope in Texas

Not long after Hurricane Harvey left a path of destruction in southeast Texas and southwest Lousiana, my colleague Rev. Joanna Dietz, an ordained deacon in the Virginia Conference, organized an Early Response Team to travel to Texas to engage in the clean-up efforts in Texas. After following her post on Facebook, I invited Joanna to write a guest post. She and her son, Andrew, blog together at Mother, Son, and … Where’s the Holy Spirit?!

It started out like any other day, watching the news and moving through my work routine. But as Harvey hit and people began calling from around the Winchester District to see what we were doing in response, I felt that tug. You know, the one that says, “You need to do something radically different here and step out in faith.” Things quickly took shape and I found myself with four other people in two cars headed down to Texas with our ERT (Early Response Team) badges, which allow us into locations that have experienced disasters.

Our first impressions were of piles of possessions on the road, hay bales that had floated across roads, and business signs ripped from their posts and scattered across parking lots and sidewalks. Some areas had remained virtually untouched beyond the occasional blue tarp on the roof, but down by the river in the poorer section of town, flooding had done severe damage to many of the homes. This is where we spent our time in Victoria, TX.

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Book Review: No Room for Baby

No Room for Baby!, Émile Jadoul, Kids Can Press, 2017.

Leon is a toddler penguin who is not too sure about having a new baby brother. As long as the infant Marcel is in his crib, Leon is okay with him. But once the baby cries, and mom and dad’s attention are taken away, Leon begins describing all the ways in which there is no room for a baby.

The Penguin family lives in a spacious igloo with all the trappings of a human home that would be familiar to a toddler. This familiarity along with the cartoon style illustrations, make it appealing to the listening toddler.

Despite Leon’s hesitantly about Marcel living in his home, Leon does find one place that is big enough for the baby. Leon’s arms are just the right side.

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