the blog of Jason C. Stanley

Tag: christianity (page 1 of 37)

Book Review: The Faith of a Mockingbird

cover65933-mediumThe Faith of a Mockingbird: A Small Group Study Connecting Christ and Culture, Matt Rawle, Abingdon Press, 2015.

I remember the first time I read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Still impressionable, the character of Atticus Fitch beckoned to me. When I “grew up” I wanted to be Atticus Fitch. I knew then, just as I do now, that being a lawyer was not in the works for me. It was more what Atticus represented. Courage. Boldness. Compassion. Sense of Justice.

I think Harper Lee knew what we all, sooner or later figure out, being Atticus Fitch is not easy. But it is something we all strive towards.

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The Message 100


I have a lot of Bibles. Call it an occupational hazard. There are study Bibles. Bibles in various translations. Children’s Bibles, teen friendly Bibles, and Bibles I wonder where they came from. Many were gifts, others I purchased along my own journey.

When Eugene Peterson’s The Message first hit the shelves in October of 2002, there was a collective sigh of relief. People who had challenges reading any of the many translations of the Bible, now had, as Peterson himself calls it, a paraphrase of the Bible in today’s language.

The Message is one of the many Bibles I own. Mine is a small, compact Bible. I bought it when I started Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at the University of Virginia. I needed a Bible that would fit in my white lab coat pocket.

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Keep Me Near the Cross

I had moved some of my cross necklaces that were hanging on the hook where I hang my alb. They were getting tangled up and just becoming a mess. So I took them down to set them aside until I could come up with a better solution.

The day proceeded on. I left work, went home for lunch, got a haircut. All pretty normal things. I had a meeting with a couple getting married this coming summer and needed to take Baby J with me. We loaded up and got to the office about forty-five minutes before the meeting was scheduled.

In a good mood, Baby J explored my office. Playing with the toys that were there only occasionally. At some point, she discovered the crosses I had earlier that day set aside. One cross, a wooden cross I brought back from Costa Rica one year, became her favorite.

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The Muppets: It’s Not Easy Being ‘Human’

muppets-tv-show-abc-2015-trailerI wrote the following for Screenfish.net.

ABC’s new comedy, The Muppets, premiered this week. The show is a mix of nostalgia, bringing to mind The Muppet Show (1976-1981), and a modern day drama. Using a page out of the writer’s room of Modern Family or Parks and RecreationThe Muppets follows the crew of a late night television show, Up Late with Miss Piggy, in a mockumentary.

Just as in all the other Muppet related television shows and films, the Muppet characters are treated just as human as the humans. In the first episode, Fozzie goes to dinner to meet his human girlfriend’s human family. The Muppets come complete with their own set of human emotions and human drama.

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Sermon: I Have Decided

A sermon I preached on Sunday, September 13, 2015 at Peakland United Methodist. The texts were Proverbs 1:20-22 and Mark 8:27-38.


Giveaway: The Biggest Story book

The Biggest StoryThe Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung and with illustrations by Don Clark, has to be one of the coolest things I have seen in some time. The book leads kids and parents on a journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heaven and the new earth.

The story is written with a lightness and causal tone, that makes it perfect not only for children, but adults, as well! (I love a good children’s book as the next kid.) I could see this a great resource for middle school youth ministry, but also a great addition to any adult Bible study.

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Book Review: What Keeps You Up at Night

_240_360_Book.1584.coverWhat Keeps You Up at Night: How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams, Pete Wilson, W Publishing Group, 2015.

Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee. What Keeps You Up at Night? is his fourth book, where the main idea is that God has a purpose for each of us. Though Wilson never uses the word, you could refer to it as your vocation. What keeps us up at night is fear and uncertainty about fulfilling this God-given purpose.

From there, Wilson explores various ways in which fear keeps us from chasing our dreams – or God’s dreams for us. Fear prevents us from living into the holy life God has called us to. Wilson also provides some practical steps to overcome that fear. Prayer and trust in God are the strongest recommendations. Wilson writes:

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Book Review: The Sky is Falling, The Church is Dying, & Other False Alarms

The Sky is FallingThe Sky is Falling, The Church is Dying, and Other False Alarms, Ted A. Campbell, Abingdon Press, 2015. 

Ted Campbell, a United Methodist clergy person and professor at Southern Methodist University, uses his position in the church as a historian to examine the claim that the church is dying. He addresses the myth, as he calls it, focusing on the mainline churches – or old-line churches – that seem to be suffering from a membership hemorrhaging. All while it appears that the more contrastive, evangelical churches are growing.

This has been a commonly stated problem for the mainline church, which Campbell identifies as United Methodist, Presbyterian (USA), Episcopal in the USA, United Church of Christ, among others, since Dean Kelley’s Why Conservative Churches are Growing was published in 1972.

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Sermon: Christian Education Sunday

Below is my sermon from yesterday, on Christian Education Sunday. It is a sermon in rhyme. As requested, the text is provided as well (though I probably have a few commas in the wrong places). If you use the Podcast app, you can listen by subscribing here. 

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Book Review: For the Love

blog_642262_2683366_1437256531In her book, “For the Love,” Christian writer, blogger, and DIYer, Jen Hatmaker provides a collection of essays ranging from helicopter parenting to the future of Christianity. The idea for her book comes from a phrase she acknowledges she says a lot: “For the love.” It’s like saying, “Good grief,” or “WTF?” in different situations. Each essay (chapter) covers something that she has encountered that has caused her to utter the words, “For the love.”

The target audience for this book is the large number of women readers that have been congregating around Hatmaker for the last several years thanks to successes like her book “7.” Having said that, I enjoyed reading this book (there were some sections I skipped over). Haymaker comes from an evangelical background, which she explains at different points, highlighting the good things that came from that and the more challenging things. At  her current place in life, a 40-something writer, mom, and pastor’s wife, she recognizes that church no longer needs to be the way it was.

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