Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a deacon dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: christianity (page 1 of 39)

To the Class of 2016

I was invited to participate in the Baccalaureate service for EC Glass on June 5, 2016. This is what I shared. 

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

This is a season of celebrations. And you have a lot to celebrate – the final concerts, the final games, the final plays, the final exams. There are classrooms you will never walk into again. You have finished, and in doing so accomplished a lot, and that is worthy of celebration.

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Giveaway: Mother & Son

Mother-and-Son-The-Respect-EffectMother & Son: The Respect Effect, Emerson Eggerichs, W Publishing Group, 2016

Mother & Son is a new book from Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect. Through his Love and Respect conferences, Eggerichs focuses on marital relationships. In this new book, Eggerichs turns his attention to the mother and son relationship.

As the subtitle suggests, Eggerichs proposal is that while it is important for a mother to show love to her son, showing him respect is key to his heart. Eggerichs suggests and coaches how respect-talk can transform the mother-son relationship.

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Sermon: Trouble Maker

Here is the audio of my sermon from May 29, 2016 at Peakland United Methodist Church. The text was Galatians 1:1-12, Luke 7:1-10, and 1 Kings 18:20-39.  You can also listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.

Giveaway: Bearing Witness book

51C0M7mo0fL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Bearing Witness: Stories of Martyrdom and Costly Discipleship, Charles E. Moore & Timothy Keiderling, editors, Plough Publishing House, 2016.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” -Jesus of Nazareth

This quote is an appropriate one to begin a collection of stories featuring those who were persecuted because of their faith. And not talking about the elected public official who cried persecution when they refused to do their job. Nor the company that cries persecution because the law requires them to provide services to a gay couple. Nor do I mean the white man who cries persecution when a woman chooses to get an abortion.

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Giveaway: ESV Family Devotional Bible

ESV-Family-Devotional-BibleStudies have shown that the most influential person for a young person’s faith is his or her parents. The ESV Family Devotional Bible aims to help families read and study scripture.

This hard back Bible includes the entire English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. A fairly new translation, in the midst of quite a few to choose from, the ESV is not all that different from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). The ESV seems to have been presented as an alternative to the traditionally used King James Version.

The ESV Family Devotional Bible includes 130 key stories retold, along with questions and a key verse. There are colorful illustrations for each devotion as well. At first the illustrations were a bit nostalgic, as they reminded me of the pictures in the story Bible at my grandparents’ home. I’m not sure, however, they would be the most kid-friendly today.

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Book Review: Fear of the Other

cover87517-mediumFear of the Other: No Fear in Love, William H. Willimon, Abingdon Press, 2016.

True to form, Bishop Willimon approaches theological themes in a no-nonsense and gutsy matter. This little book (less than 100 pages) is the Bishop’s response to the rhetoric of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. “If not for them,” Willimon writes, “I would not have been asked to write this book.”

Willimon shows no fear in addressing current social topics. He covers it all. The desire for a bigger wall across the border to keep out Hispanics. The call to keep Muslims out of the country. The exclusion of LGBT individuals in the life of the church. And, he even takes on Jerry Falwell, Jr.

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Book Review: Under Our Skin

Under-Our-SkinUnder Our Skin: Getting Real about Race – and Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us, Benjamin Watson with Ken Petersen, Tyndale Momentum, 2015.

“What is under our skin, and under the skin problem in America, is a spiritual problem. Every time we point at someone else or an entire race—reducing them to a single story, diminishing them by stereotypes and assumptions—we overlook our own failure.” (Benjamin Watson)

After the deaths of young men like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, the issue of race in America has resurfaced. Arguably, it has never gone away. Yet with new voices like Bree Newcomb and the Black Lives Matter movement, we are being reminded that racism has not been buried.

Among the many books that have come out since the events in Ferguson, Benjamin Watson’s Under Our Skin seeks to address these contentious issues from a spiritual perspective. What started out as a Facebook status, wrestling with the events in the aftermath of Brown’s death, Watson’s first book uses that Facebook post as a springboard to further explore his thoughts, feelings, and wrestlings with race in America.

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Book Review: Love Kindness

Love-Kindness-CoverLove Kindness, Barry H. Corey, Tyndale, 2016

“We need to keep remembering that we don’t beat an idea by beating a person.” (Barry H. Corey)

There is a deep polarization in Christianity today. Thankfully, it is not around the doctrine that Jesus Christ is Lord.  It mostly centers around social issues, and how we respond to them. Barry Corey, the president of Biola University, has a suggestion: Love kindness.

He writes in his Introduction:

In today’s polarized culture, we are often pulled toward one extreme or the other, soft centers or hard edges.  I’m proposing a different approach, a third way. Rather than the harshness of firm centers and hard edges, and rather than the weakness of spongy centers and soft edges, why don’t we start with kindness? Kindness is the way of firm centers and soft edges.

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The Africa Study Bible Project

I recently learned about a new project to get a study Bible in the hands of Africans with commentary and notes from African pastors and scholars. It is called the Africa Study Bible.

AfricaStudyBibleCoverArt2

Imagine using a study Bible with the notes from another country, with images and illustrations from that context. It would be difficult to understand. This is the case for many in Africa, with their study Bibles written from the viewpoint of the United States and United Kingdom. The Africa Study Bible project aims to close that gap and provide a resource designed by Africans for Africans.

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Book Review: How Jesus Saves the World From Us

cover85683-mediumHow Jesus Saves the World from Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity, Morgan Guyton, Westminster John Knox Press, 2016.

I first met Morgan Guyton about five years ago at a required event for soon-to-be clergy in the Virginia Conference. We, and dozens more, were gathered at a college campus for a week for what I like to refer to as “Pastor Bootcamp.”

The distinct memory I have of Morgan was from an evening at a Mexican restaurant (one of many during the week). Over beer and chips and salsa, a group of us found ourselves in a deep theological conversation. For anyone who knows Morgan, you will not be surprised that he was at the helm of this conversation. In between scoops of salsa, Morgan would raise yet another question. Not to be argumentative, but to authentically seek more knowledge.

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