Wednesday, July 31, 2002
What's the deal with the skating thing?!!
This Russian mob boss fixed Olympic skating events . . . and this is huge headline news! Why? I'm sure it's a big deal for the .4% of the world population that's even watched an ice dancing event, but for the rest of us, don't you figure there's more important stuff going on - famine, generations old tribal warfare, disease epedemic, etc.?
It didn't surprise me to see it as a top story on CNN.com, but then I got in my truck and was listening to public radio and heard the story. I really thought public radio was above all that, but no.
Because I'm a head case and frequently thinking in spiritual modes, I'm caused to wonder what major "news stories" are going on within the church while we waste our time on the petty items that we drum up into something spectacular. Never mind, I'm depressed enough as it is.
Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Man, late Tuesday afternoon, and I still haven't caught up from the weekend. This does not bode well. Need . . . help . . . must . . . blog . . . must release . . . pressure in brain.
O.k., the weekend: Saturday was a real marathon, but a fun one. Most of it was spent at a collegiate summit in San Diego - it was a first-time effort of some local Southern Baptist churches. I led out in a workshop for non-freshman collegiates. The title I was given was "Being God's servant on campus; seeing the campus as your mission field." It was a fun trial effort at a different approach to "teaching" for me. Instead of relying on the detailed outline I had created for the talk, I pulled out my brainstorming sheet with lots of colors and scribbles and lines and thought bubbles, and I just talked - and as various ideas applied to what I was discussing, I mentioned them. It was non-linear, but I felt very Spirit-driven in the process. I used the Old Testament narrative of Joseph in Egypt as a backdrop to discuss how a fully integrated, maturing lifestyle of faith was very applicable to life on the college campus. I tried to get the students to think outside of the conventional mindset - service on campus as something other than outright evangelism - join the Sierra Club or something, and be a missionary there! See yourself in roles of social justice. Deconstruct your cultural assumptions as you talk to people about life - what do you mean by church, faith, salvation, hope, God, truth, etc.? What do non-believers think these words mean? What do they think you think they mean?
I also had the honor of being asked by the good man, Jason Evans, to join in a couple of discussions about the college campus, and the challenges related to living in a different paradigm than our parents did. We mentioned the term postmodernism once or twice, but mostly just talked about relating to people and living out real lives in ways that are relevant and responsible. I believe these students were representative of the emerging generation - genuine and open to creating their own experiences of faith and life as a seamless flow.
Speaking of experiences - the workshops Jason and I did were dwarfed in size by the workshops at the summit on the subject of worship. While the glut of slickly packaged and marketed worship music is a concern to me, I am actually pretty pleased by the fact that the emerging generation has a heart for worship.
Saturday night I held a Student Ministry Summit for the youth, parents, and volunteers at my church. Open dialogue, a little bit o' laughter, and lots of pizza - couldn't have been all bad!
Sunday - oi. Led worship for the second week in a row. It was fun, but for someone with next to no musical talent, it's so stressful. Hung out with my two young nephews in the afternoon - also fun, but tiring. Business meeting at church that night. Loooooooooong business meeting at church that night. Let me just say it straight - I ABSOLUTELY HATE THOSE THINGS!! Actually, some good things came out of the meeting - like a distinct move toward an effort to become more elder-driven in our polity (gasp! - a traditional SBC church with biblical elders!). We were also able to make some pretty clear statements about the danger of gossip and slander in the church.
I have no idea why I felt the need to journal about my life here, except that I needed to clarify it all in my confused little brain.
An unrelated, random thought . . .
I'm finding myself increasingly drawn toward the mystical life - one that I couldn't possibly manufacture, and certainly not contain, control, or predict.
Monday, July 29, 2002
I could ramble here . . .
. . . about the latest in my ministry saga - more ups and more downs and more long, tiring, busy weeks. But at some level, to write and write about these things would be largely self-serving. What I all too rarely acknowledge is that my ups and downs and long, tiring, busy weeks are not just mine, they are also my wife's. Michelle has been so very generous to me and our church. She consistently sacrifices time with me for the sake of others. It's hard on her, and she tires, but she hangs on and stays with me through it all. She loves me with beautiful words daily, with her encouragement and enthusiasm. But more than anything, she loves me by being there. Always there. Always. I do a miserable job of appreciating her the way I should.
Saturday, July 27, 2002
O.k., finally finished some preparations for this weekend. Man, it's been a hectic week, but hopefully a productive one in kingdom terms.
I'm back in a mode of wondering what God's role for me in this blessed mess might be. Should I stay or should I go now? If I take a survey view of the past 16 months of my life, it's clear that God has opened up wonderful new avenues of thought and ministry opportunity. I'm just still grasping for the clues that show me how and where and when to apply myself appropriately to them.
I think I've become less sure of many things that I've taken for granted for far too long. I question the basics more. I quesiton my assumptions. I think less and less along linear lines. I am more honest with myself and others - even when it hurts. All of this has produced a long-term nagging discomfort . . . except that I've learned to have comfort in the unanswered questions - almost to the point that I'd love to never know the answers (until the day when my faith becomes sight).
One of the writers I've enjoyed so much over the years is Larry Crabb. He talks about this nagging discomfort thing a lot. I think I'm slowly figuring out how good it is to feel this bad.
Thursday, July 25, 2002
Preach it brother!
Good article on postmodern preaching over at theooze. The role of the preacher and the process of preaching has been a recent topic over at the postmodern theology discussion group. I really don't like the term preaching as it is commonly practiced - a didactic proclamation directed toward the converted. The biblical model is that preaching is for those who are unconverted. Teaching is for the followers. Teaching has much more of an open-ended, common discovery kind of feel to it. It's more experiential.
Hey wow, right after I wrote that stuff you just read, I gave a quick scan to this article over at next-wave. It says what I just stabbed at, only more thoroughly. It's written by a San Diego guy . . . I gotta meet him!
Ronald McDonald made me do it!!
From the files of "I can't believe people are really this stupid," a lawsuit has been filed. Read the story for yourself. It never ceases to amaze me how we refuse to take ownership and responsibility for our own choices. After you read the story, think about how similar thought processes take place in the church all the time.
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
A learning opportunity . . .
I've been kicking around the thought of joining up with a learning experience called Etrek. Spencer Burke, of theooze fame is the man behind it. I'm not sure where I'd get the money or the time off for it, but it's intriguing. They have three tracks offered - one for lead pastors, one for youth pastors, and one for church planters (headed up by Jason Evans).
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
The roller coaster continues . . .
. . . however, I don't have time to write about it. I don't really have the time to write anything. But man, this blog thing is addictive!
This week I'm working on some student ministry calendaring, a children's ministry effort, more worship leading for this Sunday, and a workshop I'm doing for a collegiate summit in San Diego this weekend. My topic is "Becoming God’s servant on campus; seeing the campus as your mission field." I'll be focusing on leading the folks to define for themselves how to apply a missional mindset. I'll also be helping Jason Evans lead a workshop on postmodernism. I have no idea what the turnout will be, but it should be fun.
I've officially spent too much time (at least, more time than I had allotted) blogging. Geez, I was just getting warmed up.
Thursday, July 18, 2002
Hey, go read Jason Evans' blog from Wednesday, July 17. Here, here Jason . . . I want on that ride!
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Met with a friend over coffee this morning to discuss doing a worship & prayer oriented event. Music, arts, energy, symbols, passion. This would be an open event combining the efforts of multiple efforts - not as an outreach tool or as something to "grow the church." Just a time to have an experience with God. If people want to follow Jesus as a result, then that's a God thing and we'll be ready for it. We just want to put ourselves into a proper focus before Him.
Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Interesting timing . . .
I just finished meeting with someone who is concerned about some people who are choosing to leave the church for petty reasons. He doesn't get why they are making such a big deal out of small things, and wants to know if there is something deeper going on. The answer lies in a lack of maturity, and people becoming busybodies. I just talked about it in my sermon on Sunday. When we are passionate for God and growing, we don't sit idle and allow these silly things to hang us up.
As I ate my lunch, I surfed over to the postmodern theology discussion group I'm in on Yahoo! I found the following statement that says it way better than I could. Thanks to Brad (whoever you are).
I AM TIRED OF HEARING - "MY NEEDS AREN'T BEING MET - SO I AM GOING TO
A NEW CHURCH"
Here is a secret into my thought world: I think the modern Church is
in serious trouble - I think we aren't living very Christianly even
with the number of people going to church - I see alot of self-
absorbed consumption and very little sharing life going on and very
little transformation OCCURING.
Here is why I hold to a postmodern understanding. I am learning
something profoundly different from the postmodern thought leaders. I
can't find "truth" by myself - I need others in my life, I need
diversity, I need relationships in community to emerge the "truth" we
I believe the original commandments indicate that God also wants us
to maintain relationships and to do nothing to harm the relationships
around us. I think I am learning that permanent relationships are the
MOST transformative things in our lives - and so I want to reconcile
these relationships and I want to be reconciled to God and others. I
can't tell you how much my life has been transformed by sharing life
with my family and the people in our spiritual community. It is in
sharing life and watching people live that we learn of values,
beliefs, passions, hopes, dreams, motivations, needs, desires, etc.
These aren't learned in didactic methods because many times they
can't be put into words.
Monday, July 15, 2002
This is supposed to be funny, right?
A little comic relief over at next-wave.
I'd love to be Rip Van Winkle right about now - you know, go to sleep and wake up later in life. Actually, good ol' Rip went down a lot longer than I'd like to. I'd settle for about a month.
What a hectic month I'm having!! We're losing both of our church office support staff members, leaving just me and the senior pastor. We also are very very unstable in worship leadership. That places enormous pressure on us. I'm sure he's feeling the weight of his, and I'm definitely feeling mine.
With that smily intro, I had a pretty darn good weekend. Friday night, Michelle and I hosted some college students in our home for a hang-out time. We laughed, drank coffee, ate junk food, argued about social issues and church culture issues. And all the while, knowing full well that there was no particular "spiritual direction" to what we were doing, I knew we were a church. In fact, that was one of the best church experiences I've had in a while. I'm finding myself more and more drawn to my home group and gatherings like this, and less and less drawn to the larger meetings.
Saturday we went to a wedding for some friends we used to be in a college group with. It was like a reunion - lots of old friends there catching one another up on their journeys. Kinda trippy, though - people kept telling me they didn't recognize me. Since the last time many of them saw me, I've cut my hair shorter, shaved some of my facial hair, started wearing glasses, and lost some weight. They also commented a lot on my eyebrow ring - they're surprised I can get away with it being on staff at a pretty traditional church. It was really really cool to hang with some old friends, though. The reception was held at the San Diego Aerospace Museum underneath some vintage aircraft. Very groovy.
The pastor was out of town, so I preached yesterday morning. It's an interesting phenomenon when I preach now days. A while back I abandoned the idea of preaching the way I was taught in seminary, and the way that the pastor typically preaches. My text for yesterday was immaturity/maturity, and mostly I talked a lot about growing via the metaphor of Spaghetti O's vs. Olive Garden. Kind of cheesy, I know.
So here I am, back in present tense - and I do mean tense! Did I mention our lack of worship leadership? Well guess who's leading for the next couple of weeks? Let me say that I love worship (in all of its various forms), and I love music (in most of its forms). I used to write music reviews, so I think I understand it fairly well. But really, truly, in my studied opinion on the matter . . . I suck at leading worship!!!!
Well, I've officially spent too much time dreading the work I have in front of me for now, so I'll go do something about it all now.
Friday, July 12, 2002
Here's the funniest site I've seen in a long long time. Fair warning . . . it's definitely in the category of stupid guy humor.
Thursday, July 11, 2002
An old friend of mine, Dave McKinley just popped into the church office to say hello. Dave and I go way back - our fathers were on church staff together, he and I played high school football together, and I now sit at the desk he used to sit at. He's a good guy - went on to become the Dean of Students at Grand Canyon University, and is on staff with a new church in Phoenix called The Summit. Good to see an old friend with some fresh insights.
Hanging around . . .
Last night I played with some students at a rock climbing gym - my first time. Had a good time holding on for dear life . . . except that the whole time, I never really got scared that I might fall to the ground and get squished. I knew I was in a safe place, with equipment and people to help me. All the fun, with none of the danger! Sounds like so much of my life - I like to think I'm cool and on the edge, doing adventurous things, but rarely will I take a real, bonafide, legitimate, hard-core risk. I have great admiration for those who do take the risks, and make things happen because they have no safety net. I truly hope to join your ranks very soon.
I guess I could go on and on with cleverly crafted metaphors about hanging on to our Rock, but I'll spare you all.
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Good times . . .
I got to hang out with Jason Evans for a spell last night. Drank coffee, talked about life, and did a little planning for a workshop we're doing on postmodernism later this month. Working in a "modern" church, I always get refreshed when I get to dialogue with more progressive types. Jason has started a little discussion forum for organic church folks in the emerging era. Hop on board!
Monday, July 08, 2002
Can I be post- something else?
I'm getting a bit concerned lately with the postmodern worldview - at least the Christian postmodern worldview. It seems too neat and clean for us to have a party for ourselves to celebrate our own enlightenment. We've navigated through the ills of the modern church and have become liberated, so now we dance!
Really, I'm all for dancing, but it does remind me of when I used to listen to "alternative" music in the early 80's - remember when alternative music really was alternative? But then the rest of the world caught on and began listening, which really bugged a lot of us. Henceforth, we had our elitist discussions about this band or that band that we used to listen to "before they were popular." We stroked our own egos as though we were so far ahead of the curve.
Is the current postmodern Jesus follower movement having this kind of thought process now? How many of us would actually be bothered if all of a sudden a bunch of modern churches were to wake up and start doing things "our way" (I know, I know, there's no single "our way")? Would we get into little nostalgic groups to discuss old-school postmodernism?
I'm just concerned that we be about celebrating the right things. Kind of like when Jesus told his disciples not to celebrate that the demons had to obey them, but that they salvation in the first place. Let's be glad and enjoy this postmodern ride we're on together. Let's dance and party and be glad for how we've been liberated from the drudgery of the old ways, but let's not forget a few things. First, this new thing we're doing is a God thing, fueled by his Spirit - he alone deserves the glory for the good stuff. Second, let's remember that we still have a lot to learn . . . and while it may not be cool to admit it, we may have a few things to learn from those we frequently bash so happily. Third, while we encounter this brave new world, we are making our own sets of mistakes . . . and some of those mistakes may not be readily recognizable - the movement of God's Spirit which will one day follow ours will record in their history what morons we were for some of what we're proud of now.
Sunday, July 07, 2002
A new era . . .
Today we offer confessions and answers for the things that have been done. Today I begin a renewed, increased effort toward honesty and conforming to the image of Christ.
Friday, July 05, 2002
The annyoing splinter in my eye . . .
As the ups and downs of working in a modern church continue, I've come to realize that one of the central problems in any system - failing or thriving - is comfort in the status quo. Comfort causes us to settle in and settle down. Then we begin to settle for weakness and immaturity. Soon after settling for it, we cease to confront it. Even when we're encouraging others to grow, it's a weak sort of encouragement, like the kind we give to high school students - "Enjoy this time of your life . . . this is the most fun you'll ever have." When we say lame things like this, we are admitting that we've settled, that life is not fun anymore, and that we are basically impotent in every way possible.
This week, I'm experiencing the consequences of having failed to confront weakness and immaturity. I as a member of a leadership team in the church have failed to strongly and lovingly tell people to grow up and quit acting like babies. I have gently nudged them in right directions, but in all but a few cases I have not come right out and told them, "You are being prideful, and you're causing damage to yourself and the body of Christ, so stop it now." A worship pastor prospect who seems to be a very good fit with where our church is now, but more importantly, where we need to be, said no to our job offer this week. The church had given him a 99% yes vote, and he said no. Why? Because a few people insisted on acting like selfish brats and refused to work with him, and he didn't want to deal with them. 99% were in agreement about the will of God for our church, and I (and my fellow leaders) failed to rescue the 1% from themselves. Now the church as a whole will pay the price.
I am angry at the selfishness of the 1%. But I can't get beyond my own weakness. Instead of helping people grow by firmly saying, "You're blowing it," I've let them get by because I "didn't want to hurt their feelings." In truth, I didn't want to make myself uncomfortable by confronting them. And so instead of doing the right thing, I co-signed their foolishness and became an impotent leader. I am being hard on myself here because I've been so soft on myself and others everywhere else. This is my confession, and my commitment to change.
I'm tired of settling. I will have as much fun as I had in high school. No, I will have more fun. I will be a strong leader. I will not apologize for doing the right thing. I will not fear hurting feelings. I will be real again.
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
As if that wasn't enough . . .
As I reviewed my words about the major political parties, and their sameness, it occurred to me that if I made those comments to one of my politically active Republican friends, I'd have an argument on my hands. He sees vast differences between his party and the Democratic party. I don't. He focuses on the big government vs. small government thing or the pro-life vs. pro-choice thing. Meanwhile, I see the special interest groups making huge financial contributions in equal amounts to both parties, the power structures in one party mirrored exactly in the other party, and the way that regardless of whether there's a Democrat or a Republican in the White House, the polling data is the primary dictator of what gets said in press conferences.
The reason I mention this a second time is not to be redundant. Actually, it's because it occurs to me that if you took my arguments about the sameness of the political parties and applied it to the church, you'd have a pretty good match. Now, I as someone in vocational ministry might get all fired up about the vast differences between my denomination and "the other guys" or even more so about the differences between Protestants and Catholics or Christians and Jews. But what would an outsider (a true outsider) think? I can talk all day about eternal security, the authority of scripture, the priesthood of the believer, and Jesus Christ as the Messiah. But would the outsider see anything beyond the belief in a God, the use of texts considered sacred, and a belief in the transcendent life? Hmmm . . .
I could apply this same thought process to racial differences, economic differences, automobile differnces, entertainment differences, etc. We humans are a lot more similar than we are different. We just seem to have this need to categorize and systematize everything. Hopefully that's one of the interesting changes that postmodernism is bringing about.
My patriotic contribution . . .
O.k., so I've heard the standard pro and con arguments about the recent court decision about the "under God" part of the Pledge of Allegiance. I've been trying to figure out why I am so passionless about this - in either direction.
It may be because I feel like an outsider in the political process. Oh sure, I vote, I stay up on the news, and think about issues. But I just see so little difference between the dominant political parties. It's only the fringe parties which can hardly be taken seriously that are even remotely interesting to me - and usually they are so very fringe that they're downright funny. I don't suppose that's a very good explanation about my ambivalence about the pledge, but mostly I think it's all a bunch of political rhetoric that doesn't resonate in my gut.
I heard a TV sound bite interview with the guy in Sacramento who originally filed the lawsuit that eventually led to the court ruling about the pledge. During the story, they played some of the messages from his home telephone answering machine that people left after the ruling. Basically, a bunch of people screaming obscenities and physical threats at this guy. Hmmm, presumably, these would be the people living their lives "under God?" I guess I know why he's an atheist.
If the advocates of the "under God" line actually cared enough to live life under God, they probably wouldn't have enough time to get upset by a court ruling. It would be irrelevant to them whether they could say the words, because they would be living them. If the advocates of prayer in schools actually prayed in schools, and taught their children to do the same, they wouldn't be concerned about getting the government's endorsement.
Speaking of atheists, I heard a funny quote from Garrison Keillor on public radio's Prarie Home Companion. It was something about a girl being a "Lutheran atheist" - basically because it's the Lutheran God she doesn't believe in. She might be o.k. with the Presbyterian or Baptist or even Muslim God, but not that Lutheran one.
spirit farmer data
I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at SpiritFarmer.com. When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
university of washington
church of the apostles
sites i visit
off the map
a few of the blogs in the feedreader
sings in the sunshine
i'm reading it
i finished reading it - 2007
jesus and the restoration of israel
gustavo gutierrez: essential writings
jesus and the eyewitnesses
garlands of grace
twenty poems to nourish your soul
the black swan
dancing in the streets
made to stick
signs in contemporary culture
hit the bullseye
the politics of jesus
readings in christian ethics
toward old testament ethics
the kite runner
principles of conduct
the irresistable revolution
they like jesus, but not the church
the great omission
charisma: the gift of grace, and how it has been taken from us
the starfish and the spider
a perfect mess
the world cafe
the new faces of christianity
journeying in faith
metaphors we live by
foolishness to the greeks
states i've spent time: 2007
oh yeah, denmark, too
i wrote it
managing conflict in the 'new world'
music review: over the rhine
film review: bonhoeffer
music review: fighting jacks
film review: the passion of the christ
how reality tv changes lives
the best tv article you've ever read
corks & caps: a wine lover's story of change
random, disorganized thoughts about life after the katrina disaster
missional . . . plain and simple
on becoming post-gnostic
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