Friday, September 27, 2002

So, my bride and I went to a house church for the first time last night. Very cool people there. Turkey burgers, ice cream, coffee, Thomas Merton, questions, dialogue. It was the body of Christ.

The labels that we have for church are diverse, but when you get down to it - people who love and want to follow Jesus have a mystical kind of bond that turns strangers into family in a matter of minutes.

Thanks to Jason and Brooke for inviting us. It was an honor to be in your home. By the way, Jason, I am stoked for you to have found such a quality partner in life as Brooke is. You are a great team. Paige is one lucky little girl to have you guys.

posted by Steve at 6:35 AM
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Tuesday, September 24, 2002

My little countdown . . .

11 more days until I wake up to this.

posted by Steve at 3:40 PM
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I had a good yesterday talk with my favorite person in the world, Michelle. It was a painful one in some ways, but very helpful. I had gotten off the phone with one of the leaders in our church who had commented that he had thougt I was angry during a meeting on Sunday. I didn't remember having been angry, but it did cause me to do some thinking. As I talked with Michelle, I realized how easy it has become for me to allow my frustration with church and all the things that aren't working there to degrade into impatience with people (all people, not just the ones I disagree with), and irritability. I also realized how reactive I've become, and how dark my outlook has become in some ways.

So, we talked about it, took a two hour nap, and I woke up feeling much much better. Not that everything's fixed, but that God has extended his grace to me in showing me my heart. I am a weak man, vulnerable in many ways.

One of the things I want to be vigilant about is not becoming an "angry young man." My experience in the postmodern Christian community is that there are a healthy amount of reactionary people who bash the church for what it has become. Often this is accompanied by what I consider to be a spiritual pride that they have been the ones to have finally gotten it right. While I do agree heartily that what the church has become is outrageously flawed and built on some foolish principles and philosophies, I don't want to be angry about it. I want to love the church enough to pray for its return to health. I also want to maintain the humility that requires me to understand that even the new streams of church life are flawed and problematic, and that more than anything, we need to keep Christ as the head of the church. There's so much to be excited about in how God is working - I want to celebrate that, whatever form it takes on.

posted by Steve at 12:07 PM
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When we depend upon organizations, we get what organizations can do; when we depend upon education, we get what education can do; when we depend upon man, we get what man can do; but when we depend upon prayer, we get what God can do.

A.C. Dixon, as quoted in Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper

posted by Steve at 10:48 AM
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Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Read a really good article called Broadcast Institutions, Community Values. Go read this thing. It's one of the best church pieces I've read in a while, even though it's not written about the church. I forget who posted the link on their blog that led me to the article, but thank you very much! Here's a little taste:

One of the most important things you can do to attract community is to give it a fertile environment in which to grow, and one of the most damaging things you can do is to try to force it to grow at a rapid pace or in a preset direction. . .

Most broadcast organizations assume that reaching a large group is an unqualified good, so they push for size at any cost, and eventually bump into the attendant tradeoffs: you can have large community, but not a highly focused one; you can have a focused community, but not a large one; or you can reach a large number of people focused on a particular issue, but it won't be a community. . . Calling your audience a community doesn't actually make it one.

posted by Steve at 4:20 PM
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Tuesday, September 17, 2002

I am coming closer and closer to the next breakthrough in my life process. It's so slow in coming, and it comes in spurts, but I do believe it's coming.

I sat in a meeting of church leadership the other day, and found myself disagreeing with almost everything that everyone was saying - probably even what I was saying. There were a number of topics and directions, but I began to see something more clearly than I had in the past - it's not that I am the enlightened one and "they" all need my superior perspectives, or that I'm all wrong and their ways are better. We are simply in different places, and more than likely, we are holding one another back.

All of the things that God has been showing me in the past couple of years are exciting and life changing to me, but they represent something new (at least for the people around here). And just as Jesus said, sewing a new patch of cloth onto an old one will not repair the old one - it'll just cause a worse tear (Matthew 9:16). The troubles our church is facing will not likely be resolved by my "new cloth". I will make things worse by talking too much - sharing too many "new" ideas. Likewise, my new cloth will not be useful unless I apply it to a new use.

My biggest issue at this point is timing. I am needed now for support and strength and stability. I want desperately to help in a way that is truly helpful. Knowing when to move beyond this phase of help and support is tricky business. I need wisdom and understanding. I guess that's why God has led Michelle and I to spend time in the book of Proverbs lately.

posted by Steve at 10:10 AM
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Monday, September 16, 2002

I've been realizing lately how many books I wish I could read. I am at some point in the process of reading at least six different books right now, but there are so many I haven't gotten my hands on yet. I like reading - it gets me fired up to read some really penetrating or enlightening thoughts. I don't read as much as Jordan Cooper . . . I read somewhere on his website that his annual goal is to read something like 150 books! At the risk of sounding completely illiterate in the ways of postmodernity and faith, here is a short list of books I've never read, but hope to very soon:

The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton
More Ready Than You Realize by Brian McLaren
Soul Tsunami by Leonard Sweet
Houses that Change by Wolfgang Simpson
Good to Great by Jim Collins

Feel free to e-mail me with other suggestions.

posted by Steve at 1:32 PM
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Saturday, September 14, 2002

I just got invited to participate in the "What is Christianity Today?" blog. Cool stuff so far. Thanks to Iggie for the invite.

posted by Steve at 4:37 PM
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Wednesday, September 11, 2002

I am experiencing my sense of patriotism today. I mourn with other Americans. I love my country and see how strong we are as a nation. But my patriotism is not enmeshed with my faith in God. I define myself first and foremost as a Jesus follower, and not as an American. My love for this country and the benefits I too easily take for granted is strong. My love for my God and the benefits I will enjoy into eternity is stronger.

I do mourn over the 3,025 lives lost one year ago today. But I also mourn the 3,200,000 people in Malawi who will die without immediate massive starvation relief. I don't mourn enough for either, though.

I'm not doing a very good job of describing the way I view my nationalism and my faith as separate parts of who I am. Check out Alan Creech's Pledge of Allegiance and Jason Evans' thoughts - they're on the mark where I am, and have said things better than I.

posted by Steve at 11:15 AM
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Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Just had a good conversation with a guy in our church who used to "pastor" a house church as part of a network in Riverside, CA. His insights into the merge between traditional church and house church were so refreshing to me. He doesn't view the two as mutual exclusives - that's the kind of openness I want to maintain. Take the good stuff from as many resources as you can. I'm going to continue hanging out, learning, and brainstorming with him in the days ahead. I'm also going to turn him loose on our adult groups to attempt to make legitimate communities out of them.

posted by Steve at 3:46 PM
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The big anniversary . . .

I just spent time with some close friends. It's a group of pastors and church leaders in the local area who gather for prayer every Tuesday morning. We met for the first time on September 12, 2001. We've met every week since (with the exception of the holidays, I think). We meet to pray that God's presence and glory would be made known among us and in our community and nation. This has become an amazing source of strength and support and love. So as I think about the anniversary of 9/11, I will thank God for using it to draw me more into prayer and closer community with the body of Christ.

Another thought about the anniversary . . .

In this morning's prayer time, one of the pastors mentioned the report that the Barna Research Group published that says that, "Compared to just prior to the attacks, there has been no change in personal religious activity levels such as church attendance, Bible reading, prayer, Sunday school and small group involvement." As soon as that was said, I remembered what I heard on the radio driving to the prayer group. National Public Radio did a news story that says, "Hollywood tries, but fails to change its ways after Sept. 11." Amazing, isn't it? Hollywood and the church have never had so much in common.

posted by Steve at 9:06 AM
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Sunday, September 08, 2002

Some thoughts on planting . . .

Sorry, that title isn't supposed to be a cheesy pun on my blog title. By the way, I'm thinking that the blog title itself may border on cheesy - I really don't mean to make it sound like I have some weird alter ego. Worse yet, I don't mean to sound like I have some self-absorbed designs on being some postmodern superhero for Jesus followers . . . "This sounds like a job for SPIRIT FARMER!!" Pardon me, I digress.

Actually, after a little bit of rain on Friday - a truly rare occurrence here in SoCal - I got out of the house and planted some groundcover flowers on a bank. Michelle and I had done some planting a week prior, when it was hot as blazes (over 100F) - the ground was totally hard and next to impossible to penetrate with a shovel. But after a little rain, and some sprinkler watering since our last planting experience, I found it much easier to dig down into the soil and create a space to put my starter plants. At the risk of spiritualizing a fairly mundance experience, it did occur to me that perhaps some of the "rain" of trials in my life and ministry lately are really a very good thing - something to loosen up my heart in order to create a space for God to plant something new in me . . . something that will grow and spread as it reproduces. If so, I will do well to pay attention and open myself up to the process.

posted by Steve at 6:20 AM
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A Reconstructionist Creed . . .

We believe that our individual lives and our personal growth are for the sake of the generation to come after and built on the faith and the bones of those who have gone before us . . .

We are committed to building a world of meaning and hope. We recognize the clear need for prophetic deconstruction of all idolatries that make the worship of God impossible. True rebuilding must follow this temporary but necessary unbuilding.

Read more on Len Hjalmarson's site - Sunday, Sept. 7.

posted by Steve at 5:56 AM
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Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Good read . . .

Check out Brian McLaren's take on postmodern leadership (brought to you by dtour) here. Thanks to Kevin Rains for turning me on to it.

posted by Steve at 11:27 PM
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How sad . . .

I've come to the conclusion that a frighteningly large percentage of people warming the pews of our churches care little about Christ. They care about preserving their comfort and predictability. They protect their little domains as though their lives depend on it. They tolerate the reading of the Bible and teaching found in church as long as it makes them feel good. But woe to any who would dare threaten them by telling the truth.

I don't want to be that kind of person. I want to follow Jesus with such passion that I'm too caught up in chasing him that I worry at all about what others think of me. I want to obey him out of love and not duty. I want to use my God-given gifts of leadership to serve others in strength and push, pull, and hassle them into pursuing God honestly. I want to shake people up enough that they really look at what a lame excuse for living they are settling for.

posted by Steve at 11:13 PM
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Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Saying Grace . . .

A few words written by John Piper in his latest book for pastors, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals.

Any attempt to express a gratitude by paying God back would contradict the nature of His gift as free and gracious. Any attempt to turn from being a beneficiary of God in order to become God's benefactors would remove the stumbling block of the cross where my debt was so fully paid that I am forever humbled to the status of a receiver, not a giver. "Whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies" (1 Peter 4:11).

posted by Steve at 1:36 PM
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spirit farmer data

I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at 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:

seattle spots

victrola coffee
zoka coffee
university of washington
church of the apostles
quest church
sanctuary church
shoreline vineyard

sites i visit

off the map
nt wright

a few of the blogs in the feedreader

jason evans
joe boyd
kevin rains
alan creech
chris marshall
bill bean
eugene cho
jordon cooper
dwight friesen
john chandler
amy palmer
ryan bolger
rudy carrasco
ryan sharp
sings in the sunshine
rick bennett
scot mcknight
karen ward
alan hirsch
dan kimball
petey crowder

i'm reading it

colossians remixed
africa unchained

i finished reading it - 2007

generation me
jesus and the restoration of israel
god's continent
globalizing theology
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
velvet elvis
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
leaving church
journeying in faith
the creed
transforming mission
metaphors we live by
foolishness to the greeks
personal knowledge

states i've spent time: 2007

british columbia
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
america's idols
random, disorganized thoughts about life after the katrina disaster
missional . . . plain and simple
on becoming post-gnostic

i blogged it

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