Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: christianity (page 1 of 43)

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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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: 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: 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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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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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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YouTubevotional: Fair and Square

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

We have heard the phrase, “fair and square,” and “cheaters never prosper.” We usually hear them in the context of sports or in education.  Remember playing a pickup game of baseball in the backyard and someone, maybe you, telling your friends that something was “fair and square?”

It can speak to a sense of justice and integrity.

In the Mickey Mouse short below, Mickey is faced with the challenge of cheating (like everyone else) or being faithful to the spirit of fair play.

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