Monday, June 30, 2003

Well, my little retreat at the end of last week turned out pretty well. This is the first time I've done one, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect or how to go about it. Maybe next time I should go to an abbey and get some help from a spiritual director or something, but I was pretty pleased with how my time went. My main plan was to give myself to God and do a lot of listening. I did that and wrote some notes on what I sensed God saying to me. Some of it was pretty standard, but some of it was unexpected in a refreshing sort of way. One of the things I got some clarity on was the ongoing question of where we're supposed to focus the church planting efforts. This has been an area of stress, and it's good to be seeing things a bit better.

One thing that sort of surprised me about the retreat was the amount of reading I was led to do. I took about ten books with me - I thought I was doing this in order to have some reference material within reach as I was processing certain issues. As it turned out, I would be praying and asking God for guidance, and I'd get a sense that I should go read chapter such-and-such from one of the books I brought. Each time it was helpful and set my heart in a good direction. So, while I may have been alone, I had the company of NT Wright, Dallas Willard, Darrell Guder, Eugene Peterson, and a couple of other folks you may be familiar with - St. John, the apostle and King David.

Michelle and I talked quite a bit this weekend, and made some of the very first baby steps toward something that has seemed inevitable over the past few months - relocating. It's been a tough topic for us to come to grips with, because we really love our house - it's new, well-designed and built, has amazing views (snow on the mountains in winter - which, granted, only lasts about three weeks around here, but still!), and we have one and a half acres. But we know we're not supposed to plant a church here, and we need to be closer to the action. Plus, the hour long commute (each way) for Michelle to get to work is getting old. So we drove around some neighborhoods to look at what it'll cost us to get into a house.

This week I'll begin looking for work to supplement the household income. We're trying to balance the thoughts of working efficiently (getting maximum pay for minimum work) with having a job that puts me into the community where I can meet people and develop relationships (but where the tip jar and free pound of coffee per week are the primary perks of employment).

posted by Steve at 8:57 AM
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Sunday, June 29, 2003

Sunday. Michelle and I didn't "go to" church this morning. Instead we woke up slowly, talked about life, drank coffee on our back porch while looking out over the mountainous view God has blessed us with. We read scripture and prayed together. In a few minutes we're leaving to go "be the church" with some college students at Lake Poway. Worship is good.

posted by Steve at 1:19 PM
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Thursday, June 26, 2003

I'm heading out for a couple days of personal retreat today. I'll be at the monastic community of Lawrence Welk Resort just north of San Diego. My parents have given me a night in their time share there. Depending on check-in/check-out times, I may not leave the room I'm in while I'm a guest. I just want to pray, write, and mainly listen to God. At the beginning of the year it was my goal to do this at least quarterly, but this is my first one. I'm definitely looking forward to it, though.

posted by Steve at 5:42 AM
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Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I spent most of yesterday in a basic training thing to be certified as a chaplain for the San Diego chapter of the American Red Cross. It seems like such a simple way to help people through traumatic events in their lives. Heck, I'd even volunteer for a non-chaplain type thing. I've had a history of being pretty skeptical about the organization in the past - and the local chapter sure has had some major screw-ups in the handling of donations in the past couple of years, but things do seem to be on the mend lately. Here's a little piece of Red Cross trivia for those of you who care: The American Red Cross is the only non-profit organization that has a congressional charter and is legally required to exist . . . but they don't get any federal funding for their basic services.

posted by Steve at 10:08 AM
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Monday, June 23, 2003

Had a good weekend with Michelle these last couple of days. We went to see Finding Nemo, then went to a Thai restaurant for dinner. We also got down to Pacific Beach to check out Coastlands Church. I met the pastor, Evan Lauer, a few weeks ago and wanted to say hello. This guy is a real encouragement to me - he's stoked on what he's doing, and he knows his role in the Kingdom.

posted by Steve at 8:27 AM
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Thursday, June 19, 2003

I got a call today asking me to lead a couple of workshops for a Collegiate Summit in July. It's supposed to be a sort of repeat performance of what I did with my man, Jason Evans last year. This time I think some local pastors are supposed to sit in, though - that might make it worth doing.

posted by Steve at 5:20 PM
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I'm beginning to gain some clarity on a personal issue that's been dragging me down a bit recently. It's a bit hard to explain, so bear with me. I am a fairly bright individual, and have a capacity for some deep thoughts now and again. I'll freely admit that I am more often inspired by encountering the thoughts of some of my favorite writers (bloggers included) than I am by my own profundity. If I'm good at anything in terms of the thought world, it's fusing a variety of thinking from different people and different genres of life. One of my favorite words is up there in the subtitle of my blog - Integration.

But in the recent past it seems like I've been overly focused on the tasks at hand and I've stopped allowing myself to be revolutionized and stirred up by big thoughts. It's a little ironic in that I've actually done a good bit more reading than normal for me over the past few weeks. I've read everything from N.T. Wright and Eugene Peterson to John Maxwell and Rick Warren (there's a good explanation for each of these, I promise).

I think that is part of the reason that over the past few days, in particular, I have sat down at the computer to post some thoughts here and I've come up dry. Heck, I even resorted to disclosing my oh-so-slow internet connection issue.

So here's my little way of kicking my own butt in front of the world. Quit being so dang lazy with your thinking already! You have some powerful good stuff going on in your life, and you're in community with others that offer stimulating conversation, reading, worship, and life. INTEGRATE!!! Start thinking of new possibilities when it comes to problems in your life and for crying out loud, it wouldn't hurt you to focus less on your own problems and more on serving others. If you can't get at least a little excited about what God is doing all around you, then dude, you're a waste of skin - there are rocks crying out in worship louder than you are.

Whew! That felt gooooood. Nothin' gets me going like a little kick in the pants now and then. Too bad I had to do it to myself this time. I just hate living such a pitiful small life sometimes. And in case I should be misunderstood here, I have no need to be recognized by others for having big thoughts or any thoughts at all. I just happen to know that I'm capable of big thoughts, I enjoy big thoughts, and based on those two things, I am responsible before God for those big thoughts (which are obviously quite small to him).

posted by Steve at 5:12 PM
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Wednesday, June 18, 2003

It's been a slow week for me around here. I've done a bunch of work outdoors - cutting down an acre worth of weeds taller than me. My allergies are going nuts! I take a prescription medication, but it's not working so hot. Oh well. I'm almost done with the weeds, though, so that's good. I'm taking today off from those chores . . . got a couple of meetings.

posted by Steve at 9:36 AM
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Tuesday, June 17, 2003

O.k., confession time. I'm embarrassed, but I gotta tell the truth. Please don't laugh. Just pray for me, o.k.?

My only internet connection is dial-up.

There, I said it. I feel cleansed.

I really try to limit the amount of time I spend on-line . . . because I also don't have a second phone line. With that said, if you ever want to have an IM chat with me, feel free to look me up. My Yahoo! IM ID is "spiritfarming." I don't do other versions of IM.

posted by Steve at 11:05 AM
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Friday, June 13, 2003

Harry Potter gets saved . . . and becomes a fundamentalist!

I just found this excerpt from the yet to be published book "Harry Potter in the Lake of Fire." It's in the latest issue of The Door.

What?" said Ron Weasley in astonishment, "Have you gone off your bloomin' rocker? You're going to burn all your books of magical incantations, and destroy your wizard's wand, and your cloak of invisibility? You must be mad!"

"Not at all," shot back Harry, with a fiery glint of righteous boldness in his eyes. "Through the anointed ministry of Bob Larson, I have come to see that these things are all tools of Satan. They are strongholds for demonic oppression, or even possession. I am choosing to cut all ties with my sordid past, and to destroy every wicked thing that has held me in bondage. Better to burn them, than for me to burn forever in the Lake of Fire!"

[read more]

posted by Steve at 1:59 PM
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Yesterday was a really good day. I got to hang out a bit with two of my core group members, and they're both stoked and ready to go for it. I also met with Jeremy, the lead pastor of The Movement in San Marcos. God's doing some pretty amazing things in that community - they've only been doing church for about a year and a half, but things are really taking off. I heard Jeremy say some things that have been rattling around in my head and conversations I've had with Michelle.

The Movement is experiencing something that I've questioned quite a bit. Ever since I began really forming my vision and direction for church planting, I've had the intention of keeping things pretty small and very very simple in terms of structure and leadership. I've definitely had a value of multiplication in mind. Something I've regularly said I didn't want is a big church - because I don't want to lose the intimacy of community, I don't want it turning into some big show, and I don't want it to be a personality driven thing. At The Movement, though, they've had some pretty similar values, but it's like God has had something different in mind for them. They haven't gone after the big crowds or the slick worship services, and they have not done any advertising, but what they're seeing is lots and lots of people showing up, looking for Jesus. People are getting healed. Worship is authentic. Their story does not seem to revolve around Jeremy, or his brother Jobey (who is their kick butt worship/arts leader). They want to plant a bunch of churches all over San Diego county.

So my question is - what if a church like that gets huge? Even to the point of being in a class of "mega" church?

So how 'bout it? I ask this especially for those of you in an organic/simple/house church environment. What if God had it in mind for your house church to spark some outbreak of an awakening? What if at your next house church gathering, five new people showed up? And the next time they all brought two friends, and then they brought more friends? I know that one of the values would be to multiply out the groups and develop multiple house churches out of this group. But one more question - what if things continued to grow, and it really was a Jesus thing, and you ended up with a couple hundred people wanting to know Jesus and life in the community? In particular, how would you handle it in terms of leadership? There could still be a strong apostolic role for leaders, but how about the pastor/teacher role?

posted by Steve at 9:26 AM
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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Jason has had some good thoughts recently on the whole postmodern "cool" thing. It reminds me of a story I heard last week.

There's an old small country traditional Baptist church in the central valley of Calilfornia - agricultural area. They recently began burning incense in the foyer of the church. Even the traditional Baptist types who don't like the mystical hooky-spooky stuff (you know the stuff . . . the stuff Jesus likes) really thought the incense was cool. They said it helped them get into a more reverent, spiritual frame of mind. It's one change that they seem very pleased about. The thing they weren't told about the incense was that it was there for another purpose. Basically, the bathrooms, which are just off the foyer, have been so permeated over the decades by the smell of urine that the pastor found that the only way to effectively deal with it is by masking the stench with another fragrance.

It causes me to ask along with Jason if many of the expressions of cool in church these days aren't just the latest fragrance, meanwhile the smelly darkness of hearts that have only been marginally exposed to the Master are still there needing some real transformation. How 'bout this for a new Brian McLaren book . . . "A New Kind of Cover Up"?

posted by Steve at 6:02 AM
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Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Last night I ended a 40 day fast. During the fast I lost no weight. I think this is probably something close to a Lenten fast, but I've been fasting from television. To some people, that would be no big deal. For others it would be like taking a break from oxygen. I'm somewhere in between. I like television . . . mainly because I'm a pop culture freak and I love watching a variety of shows so I can pick them apart and such. Michelle knows all too well that I can't stand local news shows - probably because they're so stinking shallow that it's not very fun to analyze them. I'd swear that 90% of the content comes directly from press releases by PR firms. Weather and sports are just about the only real reporting that goes on. But enough about my little rant there. All in all, I'd have to say that I didn't really miss TV as much as I thought I would. Instead I've been able to read more, work more, think more clearly, and talk to Michelle more. Here's a marriage success secret free of charge . . . conversation is healthy!

Well, gotta run. Trading Spaces is almost on . . .

posted by Steve at 3:35 PM
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Monday, June 09, 2003

The local association of churches in my denom had a big mid-annual meeting last night. I've never been to one of these things before. I saw hair and clothing styles from every era over the past 50 years. Scary stuff, man. I may have flashbacks later. I'm gonna try to score some Valium or something to help me cope.

posted by Steve at 10:30 AM
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Friday, June 06, 2003

I just spent the past three days in denominational church planting training. Good points and bad points. A little redundant given that I already went to the Acts 29 Bootcamp in January. I was the token postmodern (even though I don't accept that title). Navigating the denominational waters continues to be a trippy experience for me - in some cases I get an honest sense that the people who work with church planters are eager for people like me to enter their world, and they're glad I'm there. In other cases, I get a defensive response - I ate dinner with one of the training presenters and a couple of fellow planters one of the nights and ended up in an hour and a half discussion of the postmodern approach to truth. It was interesting for me, but exhausting. I'm not a philosopher, a theologian, a literary critic, or apologist for postmodernity . . . but that was the role I was asked to play. I felt like Neo from A New Kind of Christian - just not as smart or patient.

posted by Steve at 9:46 AM
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Tuesday, June 03, 2003

I was a little tentative about doing this, but as it came up in conversation at our home group last night, I asked the question, "What is this "saved" thing anyway?" What's the deal with salvation and why are we so hung up on who is saved and who isn't saved? Are we really in any position to talk about other peoples' standing before God?

Fortunately, it turned into a decent little conversation and didn't blow up in my face.

posted by Steve at 6:42 AM
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Monday, June 02, 2003

I've had some good talks with Michelle over the past several days. Some of them have been uncomfortable, but all have been helpful. I enjoy her thinking so much.

We worshiped with a faith community in North San Diego yesterday. It was a "cool" church - what I might call a transitional church. Reading and interpreting the fine print showed that they are at least loosely organized around the purpose driven model, and listening to the language of worship that would be at home in most evangelical congregations gave me the impression that they have gone for the "coffee and candles" approach to doing church. I did not get the impression that they have gotten terribly far along in the thought process of what the next step really involves, though. But that's o.k., really - I think communities like that one are helpful for younger people who want to experience the things of God in a different way than they've found all their lives growing up in church. Hopefully, the leadership of the church will make the necessary future steps in due time. There were a couple of things I really enjoyed about the worship experience, though. First, all but one of the songs of worship seem to have been written within the context of that community - that's huge to me. Second, as the teaching was being given I got the feeling that it was leading up to a traditional type of altar call. And I was right, except that the pastor asked people who were in need of prayer or help just stand where they were, and after praying for them as a whole, he asked the people who remained seated to go to those people and pray over them. Then he encouraged the paired up groups of people to talk to one another and see what God was going to do. I thought that was a beautiful approach to the ministry of the body doing what the body is supposed to do, rather than having the people "in need" come to the specialists for attention.

This will be a full week for me. I'll be going to some training seminars in church plating that are required by my denomination - I have mixed feelings about this. Also, I'll be back in the pulpit on Sunday. My dad injured himself recently and will be having a surgery this week, so I'll be preaching at his church for him. I'm definitely glad I can help my dad out, but it'll be interesting . . . the church is in the middle of the 40 days of something or other, and the sermon is supposed to go along with the book. I haven't read the book (and by God's grace, I won't), and probably won't like the sermon outline I'm supposed to follow. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm guessing that I'll go quickly (hopefully very quickly) through the outline with the people so they can fill in all of their alliterated blanks in their notes, and then tell some stories.

I'm also looking forward to diving into some books I got from a local seminary library the other day. Eugene Peterson, NT Wright, and John Howard Yoder.

posted by Steve at 6:42 AM
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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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