Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: Mike Slaughter

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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White Christmas (1954)

It’s the unofficial sequel to Holiday Inn that became a Christmas classic.

whitexmas-950_0

Bing Crosby first sang Irving Berlin’s ballad about the holiday in the film Holiday Inn. The song, more so than the film, was well received. It was no surprise that the studio wanted to market the song as much as they could, so they began plans for a new film featuring this poplar song.  It took almost a decade before the film became a reality. Fred Astaire, who co-starred with Crosby in Holiday Inn, was slated to join the film as Phil Davis. Astaire turned the role down, and it went to Danny Kaye, perhaps a better choice. Continue reading

Quote: Proactive Faith

Proactive Faith

Guest Post: Behind the Scenes

by Rev. Jacob Sahms

Read Matthew 6:1-6.

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.comOne night in Bible study, we were reflecting on our desire as individuals and as a church to improve our community. We talked about the way that we wanted to do more than we had done the year before, and how last year, we had added a Christmas gift ministry for children in our community to our growing list of active projects. But not everything that we had experienced had provided us with satisfaction.

One woman shared a story about how she had encouraged her children to buy gifts for other children in need, and to leave them in the collection box for a drive a local bookstore was running. She shopped their regularly, and was angry to return in January to find that the toys she and her children had wrapped were still there. After announcing that she wouldn’t give to that charity again, she admitted that she was struggling with a sense of cynicism toward giving away when even those organizations didn’t follow through.

The Message puts Matthew 6:2-4 like this: “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.”

If I’m going to be fair, I think more and more people are recognizing a need to give generously, and that they do it without worrying about whether they get credit. They’ve mastered the part about not calling attention to themselves. But we still want to feel good about it—there’s still a sense that it’s so we’ll feel better about our lives, maybe even less guilty for what we have when others lack. We might not get praised but we want that self-satisfaction: finding your gifts in the box after Christmas doesn’t give you that (nor should it!)

But Jesus encourages us to love others behind the scenes like God. And while God is generous and giving and compassionate, God is so much more than that. If I’m going to give like God then I need to learn to recognize that abandoned collection boxes will still, somehow and someday, serve a good purpose. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t need to know. To take it a step further, I need to do good, as Mike Slaughter says, even after it stops feeling good.

The story of the undelivered collection box isn’t over. It still has a purpose like God’s purposes for us. Not for praise or satisfaction or for human recognition, but for the glorious realization that when we are full-heartedly, unabashedly involved in the kingdom of God, we have pleased the audience of One.

Rev. Jacob Sahms is the Managing Editor of HollywoodJesus.com and blogs at Mustard Seeds.

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