Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: Jesus (page 1 of 18)

Book Review: Punching Holes in the Dark

Punching Holes in the Dark: Living in the Light of the World, Robert Benson, Abingdon Press, 2016.

I have made it a spiritual practice to carry a journal with me, and use it to write down prayers and reflections. At times it is just a few random scribblings, at other times it is pages of recounting and reflecting on a slice of life. These journals are Moleskins, hardback, and leather bound. Some are plain, and others are adorned with superhero or cartoon characters.

No matter the kind of journal, it holds various scribblings that reveal my heart.

When I read Robert Benson’s Punching Holes in the Dark, it felt a little intrusive. It was like I was holding one of his journals and reading through his scribblings. And with each turn of the page, I began to see what was in his heart.
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YouTubevotional: Disciples are Lifelong Learners

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

Bishop Sharma Lewis casts a vision for the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in June. The vision states, “A disciple of Jesus Christ is a lifelong learner who influences others to serve.” In this 3-minute Stir video, Bishop Lewis talks about what it means to be a lifelong learner.

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Sermon: One Smooth Stone

I preached at New Creation United Methodist for their 11am worship service this past weekend. The scriptures were 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 and 1 Samuel 17:32-49. I read the 1 Samuel account of David defeating Goliath from The Message just before the sermon.

Sermon: Catch on Fire

This weekend I preached at Broad Street United Methodist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia. Originally I had titled the sermon “Hope Building,” but once I started writing this 1st Sunday after Pentecost sermon, it changed to “Catch on Fire.” My texts were Matthew 28:16-20 and Acts 2:14-21, 42-47.

4 Books to Read this Lent

Lent is right around the corner. In a few short days, we will gather for Ash Wednesday in churches, on sidewalks, and in coffee shops to confess that we have not been as faithful as we could be, and to begin this journey we call Lent toward the empty tomb of Easter.

Here are four books I’ve read recently that would be great resources for small groups, sermon series, or individual devotional time.

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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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Book Review: Down to Earth

Down to EarthDown to Earth: The Hopes & Fears of All the Years Are Met in Thee Tonight, Mike Slaughter & Rachel Billups, Abingdon Press, 2016.

In this book for the Advent season, pastors Mike Slaughter and Rachel Billups explore what it means for love, joy, peace, and hope to come down to Earth. The book accompanies a four-week Advent study that opens up Christmas to examine how one helpless baby changed everything.

What makes this a great read during Advent this year, is how relevant it is to current events. While it was written before we had two primary presidential candidates or even an election, reading it post-election is food for the soul. Slaughter and Billups acknowledge that we put too much attention on the wrong things. They write, “Or in arguing about things such as red cups, sexual identity issues, who we voted for, and where refugees should go, are we allowing these issues to create dividing lines between us?”

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YouTubevotional: Thanksgiving Dinner

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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 a few short days, families will be gathered around tables full of food for Thanksgiving. Some, like Rev. Tom Berlin, have wondered what this year’s Thanksgiving would hold after a stressful and contentious election. You can read Tom’s thoughts here. 

Last year, during the primary season, it felt just as contentious. Saturday Night Live‘s sketch “A Thanksgiving Miracle” explored this same wondering. What could unite a divided family? What could stop the arguments across the table? SNL‘s miracle worker was the popular singer Adele, whose latest album was released at the same time.

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Book Review: Jesus and the Beanstalk

jesus-and-the-beanstalkJesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life, Lori Stanley Roeleveld, Abingdon Press, 2016.

When I started reading Lori Stanley Roeleveld’s newest book, Jesus and the Beanstalk, I connected with it. It was as if Roeleveld had peeked inside my brain and caught a glimpse of the questions I had recently been pondering.

This, I learned, is the nature of her blog and her book. Her writing has an approachable style to it, as if she were sitting at a kitchen table and talking with you directly over a cup of coffee.

It does not take much for us to realize that we live in unsettling, challenging times. There are giant problems everywhere we look and these giants produce obstacles, barriers, and strongholds.

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Book Review: Open

Open bookOpen: Get Ready for an Adventure of a Lifetime, David Gregory, Tyndale, 2016.

David Gregory is the New York Times Bestseller author of Dinner with a Perfect Stranger. In that book, the main character receives an unusual invitation. It is unsigned and the inviter has invited himself to the character’s home for dinner.

The character prepares his home for a visit for an unknown stranger, wondering what person of great importance has chosen his home to visit.

The perfect stranger is revealed to be Jesus.

In Gregory’s new book, Open, a young woman named Emma receives a similar, unsigned invitation. Her invitation is not to dinner. The invitation reads, “For a real adventure with Jesus, go through the nearest open door.” Emma’s curiosity recalls for the reader young Lucy’s innocence in walking through the wardrobe into Narnia. Emma, a bit more broken than Lucy, is transported through time to Jesus’ day.

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