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Showing posts from May, 2014

pastors and expectations [living life without expectations]

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My sweet friend over at Kansas Bob suggested I write about this topic, and I hardy feel like an expert, since I am not a pastor. But I have seen the inner workings of a few churches and have seen the struggle pastors go through in leading a church. And the biggest of those struggles, most certainly, involves expectations.
I believe the most damaging expectation I’ve seen people have of their pastors, interestingly, also seems to be an umbrella for all other expectations and it’s this: that pastors are to be all things to all people.
[But that’s in the Bible, Stephanie! How can it be a damaging expectation?]
Simple: context. Paul wrote that in 1 Corinthians regarding his missionary work: to convert Jews. He was a Jew, raised in a Gentile culture. His purpose in life was to evangelize. Not pastor. He related to others so that some might be saved. Is this all that different from what it means to actually pastor a church, though? A good and fair question, and certainly as I’ve witnessed a lo…

shame and expectations [living life without expectations]

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Have you ever been at a crossroads with a friend? Where you are sensing that the friendship just isn’t good for you and that it’s time to set it down and leave it behind?
I’ve been in that place a few times. I think I may be approaching it right now. And as I sat down to write my next post on expectations, I saw that the next topic on my list was about shame. And because I’m me, I found a connection between the two.

The famous “vulnerability TED” Brené Brown did a second TED talk called “Listening to Shame” and when I first made the list of topics to write about on living life without expectations, I wrote, from her talk, “Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s courage.” I’m not entirely sure I know what I was thinking when I connected it to the idea of living life without expectations, but I do know that right now, in my own life, there is significant shame connected to the expectations I have with the aforementioned friend.

This shame looks embarrassing. I picture it living in the corner …

some thoughts on Noah, God’s Not Dead and art [part 2]

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Does God really need someone to defend his honor?
That is the question I’ve been asking myself since I watched God’s Not Dead. I’m still not sure I have the answer yet, because I know in my heart it is not a “yes or no” simple kind of answer. But that is the question the movie left me with, and partially because of the arrogance and presumption that God does need someone to defend him is stated in the film. Are we called to defend our faith? (Of course. The Bible tells me so.) But the thought that God needs anything from us causes a holy and righteous anger in me, because I believe in an omnipotent God. He doesn’t need a thing from me. But he does want something from me. It may be all semantics… but important ones, because wrong semantics can shift our view of God. And there are just so many dangers in this.
Which is just one of the many issues I have with God’s Not Dead. Bad theology will always be something I desire to fight against, and mainstream Evangelical Christianity has a pleth…

some thoughts on Noah, God’s Not Dead and art [part 1]

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When it comes to art in the Christian sub-culture, one of the greatest challenges is not being able to being willing to take off your critical thinking hat. When I teach The Gospel in the Movies classes, the most important “rule” I have is that film is art. It is not a moral guide for our lives or a truth to patterns our life after. This is true of art that has the label “Christian” too.
Before I delve into this topic, I think it’s important to point out that there should not be the labels of “sacred” and “secular.” I will use those terms for ease of communication to you in this post, but know that I believe all things are sacred, because all people were created in the image of God. That makes them sacred. When we put the label of “secular” on something, it automatically devalues it in the mind of a Christian. This is elitist and arrogant, but also disregarding God as the creator of the universe.
All art is viewed through a person’s own worldview grid, whether they understand what that…

unconditional love and unhealthy expectations [living life without expectations]

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I went to visit a friend a back in March and told him about how I was writing on expectations, inspired by two friends of mine – two friends who live their lives without expectations, so they are never disappointed.
He was all for it. Not the writing. The living life without expectations.
So when I was working on my post from last week I texted him, asking him for a fuller explanation as to why he believes in living life this way. His response was that it was about caring for others… that not expecting anything from anyone was equivalent to unconditional love.
I would be curious to know if people who live their life without expectations would agree with him, but regardless, I am concerned at what he meant by love. Because I was pretty sure that what my friend meant wasn’t really love, but acceptance. And our culture is moving towards this meaning, too.
If we saw someone in our life taking a wrong path, it would be unconditional acceptance to let them go down that path. It would be uncondi…