Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Whew! Busy days, I tell ya. Good days, but busy ones. In particular, it was a busy, but really good weekend. I got to co-lead a couple of workshops for pastors and college ministry type folks on Saturday with Jason. It was fun to work with some very sincere, mostly conservative evangelical, denomonationally-oriented folks and poke and prod and ruffle some feathers, but not just for the sake of doing it - I actually hoped to help them think a bit and continue thinking after the day was done. What I really enjoyed about the day, though, was the in-between session when Jason and I didn't have a workshop, so we were just able to hang out for an hour and talk. I got some good insight into a "community of communities" (as Darrel Guder puts it in Missional Church) that I'm considering being a part of. Jason is an encouraging dude, to be sure, but I love the fact that he's got a punk rock mentality that he's submitted to the will of Christ. What an asset!

On Sunday, Michelle and I went on a worship/nature hike, and then went to a birthday party for a friend. We were treated just like family in this home, and it was so cool. I alway groove on watching a loving family express their love and commitment to one another in ways that are totally unique to them - in this family's case, they yell at each other a little, poke fun at each other a lot, but over and over, they pay attention to one another at significant levels that show how much they care.

This afternoon I'm meeting with a pastor in San Diego . . . I'm pretty sure he's going to try to get me to come on staff with him - mostly in a transitional position that is intended to become a church planting thing. I really like this dude a lot - he breaks the "rules", is all about the Kingdom, and doesn't mind when the truth offends people - and I'm sure he's got something worth listening to. Buuuuut man, I'm really going to have to have a clear direction from God if this is supposed to happen. It would probably mean a significant delay in the church planting efforts.

In other news, on my way home from work this morning I got a traffic ticket! Now, I've had tickets before, and I've never even thought about fighting them because I knew I deserved them. But I got completely ripped on this one! I hate the thought of going to traffic court over this, but I think I may. I completely disagree with the officer's judgement. Nevertheless, God, I pray that you will bless officer Dean as he goes about his work today. Keep him safe on his beat, and reveal yourself to him in a way that will refresh and renew him.

posted by Steve at 11:09 AM
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Friday, July 25, 2003

Well, I seem to have successfully navigated the computer bug fairly well. The ants, though, persist. This reminds me of an incident from earlier in my week . . .

After I got out of the shower at 4am to get ready for work, I paused while preparing to put a sock on my left foot. On top of my foot there was a small, almost unnoticeable speck of something. I looked more closely to figure out what it was. The shape was familiar to me, I thought. Then I identified it. It was the tail section of a small creepy-crawly. We call these bugs pincher bugs, but I have no idea what their real name is - long, skinny bugs with an armor type shell, many legs up and down their bodies, and at the end, there's a little claw like a little crab or something. Curious, I thought, to have just gotten done showering and finding a bug part on me. Then I looked a little farther up my leg and I saw a dark smudge, and then another one on my other leg. And then I knew . . . the pincher bug had been hiding out in some random fold of my towel as I showered, and got caught as I toweled off, and then became like a moisturizer to my normally insect-free skin.

At first I was repulsed by the thought, and then in my knack for spiritualizing things, I realized this was a teachable moment for me. How often do I/we think we are doing the right thing - doing the things we think are good for us (like showering), only to find out that we've made a bigger mess of things than when we started? We use our thoughts, our plans, our learned behaviors, our formulas for success, our tools, and we end up with bug guts smeared on our legs.

God's grace is so available, so there for us. I'm so glad to have had this time of sharing with you. Sweet dreams friends.

posted by Steve at 10:33 PM
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Crimony!!! My computer keeps trying to have near death experiences. I'm trying to get stuff together for a couple of workshops I'm doing with Jason Evans at a collegiate summit tomorrow, and my pc is having issues. But hey, I blog on, right?

posted by Steve at 4:29 PM
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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

So this past weekend, after my first week working part time, I began feeling a little discouraged, in part because I felt like I hadn't "done anything" in the area of the church plant. And then I remembered why I took the job in the first place - to meet people in the community and begin developing relationships. So I'm pleased to report that I met a bunch of new people in the community last week, and I'm beginning to develop relationships with them!

I was also encouraged by a thouht that popped into my head as I was pondering the whole church thing, and what the heck I'm supposed to be doing with my life. It goes something like this - "God wants me to plant a church more than I do." I guess I could take that in a couple of different ways, but I chose to receive it as encouragement. God's desire is to be glorified, and I have the privelege of doing my own little part.

One more thought for the day. It concerns a book that Michelle and I have been reading together devotionally. It's not a book I would have bought in a hundred years on my own, but because it was a gift, and I promised to give it a shot, we're reading it. I won't mention the title, but it's in the top five NY Times best sellers in the advice category right now. We're not quite half way through the book, and I've been trying to put my finger on why I'm finding it so inadequate. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of things I dislike about the book, but if I'm honest, I have to admit there are some good life principles to be found in the book as well. But it finally hit me - my dislike for this book and the multitude of others like it (formulaic readings of scripture which are translated into absolutely essential principles for success with God) is that it's a person-centered approach to growth. "Do these things in the right ways, and you're guaranteed to have a better life, because God wants to reward you for doing them!" Do you see how there is more emphasis on the person than on God? Spiritual, personal growth are more a result of our efforts than God's grace at work in us. But I've noticed the difference between this and the kind of reading that really fires me up. I discover truths about God in a new way, and it has almost nothing to do with what I do - God's gonna be God, and worthy of my complete devotion whether or not I fulfill the principles laid out in some book. The cool thing is that when I discover these things of God, I get so captivated by his beauty that I end up doing a lot of those things as a natural response, and not out of some self-oriented effort at personal blessing. To test this line of thinking out, Michelle and I read a chapter out of NT Wright's For All God's Worth, a book on worship. Sure enough, without me having set Michelle up, after only a couple of pages she said something like, "This book is waaaaaayyy better than the other one!"

O.k., enough said for today.

Alright, I lied. I just had one more insight that I gained this morning: a Starbucks lemon scone may be very very tasty, but at 4:45am, nothing in that store looks good but the coffee.

posted by Steve at 1:14 PM
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Sunday, July 20, 2003

I've spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about the holocaust. I've watched two films (plus the "making of" material from one of them), read some stimulating writing that referenced it, and seen part of a public television program that dealt with WWII death camps. I am left with two feelings - seemingly incongruent, and yet both unmistakably there. I feel the utter horror and sickness in my stomach that more than six million image bearers of God were savagely put to death. And yet I feel the hope that being an image bearer of God myself brings me - that I am empowered to live a life of love and sacrifice toward Him, whether in this physical body or out of it.

John Piper writes about the "mosaic" of God's will. When viewed individually, the pieces of a mosaic appear insignificant, ugly at times, small, and meaningless. But when viewed as a part of the whole, they all contribute to the beautiful picture. Our God can take even the ugly things of life and build them into his story in such a way as to make them beautiful. His time for redemption will come, and we will be breathlessly captivated by what he has done.

posted by Steve at 10:29 PM
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Friday, July 18, 2003

Geez, I can't believe this week is almost over . . . time has flown by me. I guess that's what happens when you work for a living. It's also what happens when you spend time with folks. OC on Tuesday, BBQ in the park with my college friends on Wednesday, Padres baseball game (if you can call it that) with my dad, sister, and nephew yesterday, good friends coming over for pizza and hang-out time tonight, plus meeting all my new co-workers throughout the week.

I was asked to do some work on an ongoing side project (more to come on this in a couple months), which is starting to get fun.

posted by Steve at 6:46 AM
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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Good day today. I drove the long distance commute with Michelle this morning, dropped her off at work, then headed north to Orange County. This was during the busy morning commute. I didn't have anywhere to be until 11am, so I decided to drive as far as I could, and then when I hit traffic, I'd take the next exit and grab some coffee. As it turned out, I hit the traffic and pulled off in Mission Viejo at an exit where I knew a Starbucks store was located. I hung out and read for a while, and then in walked Troy Murphy, who is part of the South County United family. I met with one of his cohorts a couple months back, so I introduced myself to Troy. Cool dude - we didn't talk long, but it was good to meet him.

I had lunch with a buddy of mine, Jeff. It was good to reconnect after quite a while since the last time we hung out. He's allowing God to push him into some uncomfortable territory - it's good to see in one way, but I know it's hard too. I really want to be a source of encouragement.

I've been continuing to plod my way through a couple of books - more slowly than I ought, but hey, I'm working man again, right? Yeah, I started work at a local Starbucks store yesterday. Interesting stuff so far . . . I've been learning about their philosophy and culture. Tommorrow I may actually learn how to make something.

posted by Steve at 9:09 PM
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Monday, July 14, 2003

It should be an interesting week. I don't have many appointments. But I'm going to make a phone call in a couple of hours, to go ahead and accept a job offer at Starbucks. Who knows, they may even ask me to come in today and start some training. It's a little humbling to make less money per hour than I did when I was 18, but that's not a huge deal to me. I'm doing it as an opportunity to be in the community, developing relationships, and learning from a company what I should already know from the church. I have no idea how long I'll work there or what God has in mind for me, but I'm looking forward to it. Maybe the allure of free coffee and an employee discount on espresso machines has me overly happy.

++God, my life is yours. Please make the most of the time I spend with people by showing me how to serve. Please be happy with my desire for you today.++

posted by Steve at 6:05 AM
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Thursday, July 10, 2003

Last night we had another BBQ get together in a park for some young adult types. Small gathering, but it was awesome. I had a prepared Bible Study thing that got completely abandoned because Jesus showed up in the conversation, and things just grew in a totally other direction. We ended up looking at Jesus as the perfect high priest, as well as the perfect sacrifice. I had come prepared, but hadn't "planned" for communion. Everything we talked about just sort of flowed in that direction, and we celebrated the breaking of Christ's body and the spilling of his blood so that we could be with him. It was very intimate, and lovely. I'm fired up about that this morning.

posted by Steve at 7:23 AM
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Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Our house is under attack. I think it's of the devil, but God probably knows otherwise. Michelle and I have spent a great deal of time over the past several days dealing with some very unwelcome house guests . . . ants. They've explored our pantry, taken meals of sweetness from our aluminum can recycling collection, and tried at least twice to establish new colonies within the walls of the home - one of which was the water reservoir of our super deluxe coffee maker. Yep, it's disgusting . . . especially when I just had to ask myself the ugly question - "Exactly how many pots of coffee did I consume under these conditions before discovering the ugly truth?" I'm sure there's some spiritual message to be found in all of this, but after dealing with these ants, I'm not in much of a spiritual mood. And yet I sit here realizing that old King Solomon had a respect for ants. Hmmmm.

posted by Steve at 10:13 PM
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Monday, July 07, 2003

Wow. A long weekend it was, and it's not over yet. Michelle knew we'd be pretty busy, so she wisely took today off work to rest up before going back to work. We hung out with family and friends a lot, went to another summer wedding (3 down, 1 to go), and did a little bit of work around the homestead.

I've decided that this week I'm going to spend time mostly away from home. Recently I haven't been out and about where the people are quite as much, so I'll do that. I'm hoping to have some conversations with some folks about the kingdom. I want these conversations to develop organically, and yet I know I alread have an agenda. That's a tricky balance, isn't it? Wanting things to move where they will as you talk, and yet having an intention for the direction (which has echoes of manipulation and/or control). How does one keep his or her heart pure? My thoughts would be along two lines. First, reliance on the Spirit of God - the one who wants the conversation to be about the kingdom more than we do. Second, a selfless love for other people (in particular the one you're in conversation with right now) - the kind of love that will see the deeper kingdom desires in all people and want to share something of value that will bring them closer to satisfying their desires. That's my input - what's yours?

posted by Steve at 7:56 AM
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Thursday, July 03, 2003

This post from Todd Hunter's blog crystallizes so much that I think the church needs right now:
Jesus’ Gospel is an invitation into the Kingdom of God – the realm in which what God wants done is done. He is offering us a different kind of life. Eternal life is not spatial (out beyond the stars somewhere), nor is it chronological (out there waiting for us when we die). It is qualitative and it can begin now! When Jesus asks us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him, to lose our life in order to find it (Matthew 16:24-25), he is showing how to give up an inferior life outside the Kingdom for a superior life in it. A plant has one kind of life, an animal another and humans still another. “Born again” life is a different kind of life in this space/time, it not some sort of disembodied bliss after one dies.
[read more]

That's very similar to stuff that Dallas Willard and Brian McLaren talk about, but I never get tired of hearing it. My prayer for myself is that I will become less and less distracted from living the reality of it.

posted by Steve at 6:26 AM
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Tuesday, July 01, 2003

The Ecclesia Network blog is up. It's a conversation place related to a gathering of church planting types, hosted by the fabulous Evans family.

posted by Steve at 6:16 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 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: spiritfarmer@gmail.com

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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