Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a deacon dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: Christ (page 1 of 4)

Book Review: Finding Your Voice

_225_350_book-2048-coverFinding Your Voice:  What Every Woman Needs To Live Her God-Given Passions Out Loud, Natalie Grant, Zondervan, 2016.

Grammy nominated Christian artist Natalie Grant has been a force in Christian music since 1999. As she tells it in her new book, Finding Your Voice, she had what one could call a spiritual awakening during a trip to India. This “pivotal encounter with God,” she says, changed her career.

It was on that trip she came face-to-face with women and girls who were victims of human trafficking. It was this encounter of the image of God in the Other that Grant had her epiphany: She has a voice and her voice has power.

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Sermon: Complaint or Concern?

This was a sermon I preached at St. Mark’s United Methodist in Richmond. I preached on Exodus 17:1-7 as part of their Complaining is Draining sermon series. This audio is from the 11:00am service. You can also listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.

Book Review: Mr. King’s Machine

mr_king_s_machine_0Mr. King’s Machine, Geneviève Côté, Kids Can Press, 2016

“The divine presence of the Spirit in creation binds us as human beings together with all created life.” (World Council of Churches, 1991)

This little book from Geneviève Côte, the third in the Mr. King series of books, has a simple message: Care for creation.

When the cat, Mr. King, discovers some beautiful flowers have been chewed by a caterpillar, he decides to do something about it. His solution is to build a Caterpillar-Catcher machine to track down the flower-eater.

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“Don’t Put God in a Box”

When I was in high school, our senior high youth group were gathered together up in the youth room on a Sunday night. The group was planning an upcoming Youth Sunday. We were making decisions regarding scripture passages, hymns, and prayers to use. Then, the question was asked, “Who will do the sermon?”

Everyone avoided making eye contact with anyone.

Honestly, I had spent the bulk of the time avoiding eye contact. I was one of the youngest in the room. What did I have to contribute?

Then, from the other end of the table, one of the seniors spoke up and said, “I think Jason should do it.”

It was one of those moments where I was thrilled to be thought of, yet scared to death that they thought of me! I would accept and began working on the “sermon.” When I finished it, I gave it my youth leader to look over. She made some suggestions, among them, “Be careful not to put God in a box.”

god-in-a-box

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Interview: Rich Wilkerson, Jr.

PastorRichJr_Headshot2Rich Wilkerson, Jr. is known for a lot of things. He is a fourth generation Pentecostal pastor. He took a young adult Bible study into being nine weeks into a new church plant. He is the pastor who officiated the wedding of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. He and his wife, DawnCheré, star in the a new reality show, Rich in Faith, on the Oxygen channel. And this week, he adds author to that list.

Wilkerson’s book, Sandcastle Kings, uses four powerful stories from Luke 7 to explain why spiritual fulfillment cannot be found in ourselves, in other people, in material things, or even in organized religion. By examining the stories of the centurion’s faith, the resurrection of the widow’s son, Jesus’ message about John the Baptist, and the anointing by the woman with the alabaster jar, Wilkerson helps the reader take a closer look at all the ways in which we build sand castles that will one day be wiped away by the storm.

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Deacon’s Call: Lisa McGehee

I’ve been collecting call stories from my friends who are serving in diaconal ministries – ministries of service – expressed in the United Methodist Church through the provisional and ordained deacon, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners.  In this post you will hear from Lisa McGehee who is an ordained deacon currently serving as  the Associate Minister at Good Shepherd United Methodist in Richmond, Virginia. Here are Lisa’s words: 

The seed for my call was planted before I was born. My maternal grandmother was passionate about serving and caring for others – humans, animals and creation. It was through her life and the way that my mother was raised that I became an advocate for those without a voice. Granny left a legacy filled with stories of providing for care for children. She opened the family home to her children’s friends giving them a warm meal, clothes to wear and a place to stay.

She cared equally for animals and there are many stories of my grandfather and my mother and her siblings coming into the kitchen to find “the box” that sat beside the wood burning stove. “The box” provided protection for an animal that was born the littlest or one that was injured. She raised it with care until it was ready to leave. Her love for creation was equal to the love she had for people and animals. She was a farmer and a gardener who never seemed to have a challenge growing plants. I believe it was the care in which she planted the seed and tended the soil. She gave thanks and praise to God for all that she had and deeply desired to share it with others.

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Book Review: A Year of Living Prayerfully

Each Lent I choose to add a spiritual discipline or practice to my routine. With a new child in my life, I hadn’t really given this much thought this year. Somewhat organically, I found myself spending more time in prayer. I would find myself awake at night and instead of reading or putting Netflix on, I prayed.

519m4tktdJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I prayed for my new baby girl and my wife. I prayed for my church and my family. I prayed for wisdom and guidance. I prayed for my youth group and what God may be calling me to each day.

So, when I received a copy of Jared Brock‘s A Year of Living Prayerfully, I thought the timing was incredible. In his book, Jared, like other writers before him, goes on a year-long journey to learn more about prayer and go deeper in his own prayer life.

Jared has a video on YouTube that offers a glimpse into his writing style.

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Guest Post: ‘Patience is a Virtue’

by Rev. Lindsey Baynham

washing_3262c-2Read 1 Peter 3:18-22 

Piers Plowman, a poem about finding faith coined the well-known phrase, “Patience is a virtue”. Patience, something that is a good and desired piece of one’s character, I’m convinced, is in some ways a lifestyle. It is something learned, developed and ultimately lived. Patience models endurance in all things. Patience is a virtue…but let’s be clear, that does not mean it is easy. I find myself often praying…pleading for this virtue and quality as I walk the path of faith. Whether it is patience in a specific task or with an individual, the practice of patience is one piece that grounds and strengthens a faithful life.

And so with this notion of patience, we begin a season that is often attributed with characteristics such as that of wilderness, the dryness of a desert, testing, difficulty, the desperate feeling of thirst, and elongated fasting. Lent, is a span of forty days that tries our patience. Not to the point of annoyance, but we are tried because it equips us for endurance. And endurance is seen in Christ’s passionate suffering. We can endure because Christ endured.

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Undaunted: The Early Life of Josh McDowell (2011)

UndauntedJosh McDowell is a well known Christan author and speaker. His credentials are endless, but he is mostly known for his bestseller More Than a Carpenter. In this new project, the film Undaunted, McDowell takes viewers on a very personal journey back to Union City, Michigan.  It is here in his hometown, on his family’s farm, that we begin to see the beginnings of a life that many would say is extraordinary. Yet, McDowell’s beginnings are not as humble as one might imagine. An overweight mother who came to Josh’s football games and stayed in the car, unable to sit in the bleachers.  An alcoholic father who, when drunk, would beat his mother, leaving her on the ground unable to get herself up. A farm aid who sexually abused McDowell. A troubled childhood, to say the least.

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VeggieTales: Beauty and the Beet (2014)

Beauty-and-the-beet-cover-art“There are some who are hard to love.”

The family musical group The VeggieTones are starting to make it big when they get the invitation to play at Vegtable Square Garden. On the way, the family is forced to pull over due to a fierce snowstorm. They seek shelter at the inn owned by Mr. Beet. However, they have no money. They have to do chores around the hotel, including being the entertainment each evening.

This VeggieTales story is based on the classic Beauty and the Beast story.  Here, the Beet, much like the Beast, has walled himself off from other people – uh, veggies. His staff is timid around him, careful not to anger him. His inn has received poor reviews (only one star) because of his lack of hospitality.

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