Sunday, December 28, 2003

Haven't been blogging much lately. Things have been fairly chaotic around the homestead. Matt and Marge's annual Christmas Eve party was at our house this year. It was fun and noisy. I think our head count came up to 25. This party is THE event for the whole year for Michelle's family, so everyone usually really looks forward to it. And this year I think people were even more enthusiastic - people really seemed to want to rally around Matt and Marge since the fire took their home.

Each Sunday during the Christmas season, we have celebrated Advent by lighting candles on the Advent wreath in our home. So at about 8:30p.m. on Christmas Eve we gathered all of our guests together to light the center candle, representing Christ. For those who were unfamiliar with the Advent season and the symbolism of the wreath, I did a very brief walk through of it, read the passage from Luke 2 that Linus reads in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, and we lit each candle and sat quietly for a few moments. It was pretty cool. Several of the people there do not follow Jesus, and had some curiosities about things.

Other than all of that, life continues to be an adventure. I'm still very much up and down in terms of how I'm handling the living arrangements here. Most of the time lately I've been feeling good about things, but I'm still far too easily frustrated. I've become acutely aware of what an extraordinarily selfish SOB I can be. A lot of the time I just want to get away. Actually, I just want to be at home alone for several uninterrupted hours.

Well, if I can't have that, then seeing friends is not a bad alternative. I'm going to hang out with Jason this morning/afternoon. We're going to go check out some dreams we've been looking into. As a bonus, I'll get to see Eddie, too. He's been out here in SoCal for the holidays, and we're taking him to the airport this morning to go back to Columbus.

posted by Steve at 7:31 AM
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Friday, December 19, 2003

One of the frustrating things I've had to work through in my exploration of a new way of being Christian over the past couple of years is the polarization that I've watched. Some "emerging church" types are hostile to the traditional, institutional church, and most people in the traditional church don't understand the emerging church, and fear what they don't understand. This frustrates me because I hold a high view of the Church, and definitely think there's too much backbiting going on.

But every once in awhile, a moment of convergence happens before my eyes, and I think that maybe things will be o.k. Here's an excerpt from an e-mail I got from a member of a traditional church home group that Michelle and I have continued to participate in since we left our staff position with the church. It's from a group member who will be moving out of our area soon . . .

I am finding that my relationships with the Home Group members are important to me. There have been times in the past year and a half that I have dreaded Home Group meetings, primarily because interacting with anyone raises the stress level = muscle tightening = strain on arthritic joints = PAIN! Thank you for putting up with me during the many times when I was cranky and obnoxious. Being a part of a Home Group is similar to being a part of a family unit. Thank you for allowing me to be the bratty child at times, the angry teenager at other times, and the bossy mom most of the time. I love you and you will always be in a large space in my heart. As we leave this area I will take with me your friendship and love. Please know that I am leaving mine with you.

Michelle and I have had some of the deepest, richest experience of the Church in those group meetings. It doesn't matter in the least to us that the group is a part of a traditional/instutional church.

As we celebrate the coming of the Christ child, let's keep in mind that one of the promises of the Messiah was that He would bring unity among His people.

posted by Steve at 7:32 PM
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Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Let's try this one more time . . . I've recently lost at least three posts to cyberspace. While I appreciate what Blogger has done to open up new spheres of community, my user satisfaction has been tepid lately. I guess I'll have to start writing my posts into a word processor so they won't get lost.

On Sunday Michelle and I "went to church" (we don't really like "going to church" these days) at our old home church. Our friend, former boss, and former pastor resigned during the service. It was a bittersweet experience for me. In one way it's very hard because I love the church a lot and I know they're going to be challenged in the days ahead. In another way, I'm very excited for my friend, Ron. He and his family will be moving to Seattle to work with a group of churches in our denomination. It's a great fit for him, and it will be a wonderful opportunity for he and his wife to engage in ministry together again.

Later that day Michelle and I lit the third candle of Advent and talked about the Joy of the Messiah who has come into the world and our lives.

I've continued to go out into our community and engage in conversations with people. I've had some good initial talks with several folks. I haven't "witnessed" to anyone (that's a good thing, right?), but I've gotten the ball rolling with some folks that I plan to see again.

posted by Steve at 4:27 PM
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*@#$%!!!!! Grumble, grumble, grumble, grumble. I just lost the fourth or fifth post I've tried to publish in the past week. Thanks Blogger. You've opened up wonderful new avenues of publishing . . . and frustration.

posted by Steve at 2:19 PM
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Saturday, December 13, 2003

I spent the past few hours outside working the land. I gathered a very large pile of branches from various kinds of bushes that had been burned out by the fire. After having gotten some rain over the past few days, the still black ground had that charred stench that had begun to fade. As I worked, in many places all I had to do was pick up the branches (some of them 3-4 inches thick) off the ground - they had burned off at ground level. I ran all of it through a wood chipper. My work clothes and my skin got black and disgusting. Oh yeah, I either pulled or at least strained my right bicep. Ouch.

Tomorrow Michelle and I will worship with our former church family. I'll write more about this next week. These are interesting days.

posted by Steve at 1:02 PM
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Thursday, December 11, 2003

I had lunch with my local denom guy, Dan, and Paul Kaak yesterday. Paul and I have some common friends/acquaintences, so it was good to get to know him a little bit. I appreciated the way he's so passionate about organic forms of the church, and yet not antagonistic toward the traditional/institutional church.

After lunch, Dan and I grabbed a cup of coffee. He told me about some stuff that may be brewing in a church in our local association. If things played out in the right way (which may be a complete pipe dream), there could be some really amazing potential for ministry in a incredibly cool spot in San Diego. Too good to be true, maybe, but then again, one can hope.

posted by Steve at 8:16 PM
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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I'm having some posting issues with Blogger right now, so bear with me. That last post was actually written yesterday. I'll post today's ramblings in a few minutes.

posted by Steve at 3:29 PM
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This past Saturday was a hard day. It was painful and hopeful all at once. Michelle and I had a pretty intense discussion about where we are in life, in ministry, in money, in emotional health, in anything else that matters. It was painful because we each admitted that a lot of stuff just doesn't make sense to us right now. We're tired, frustrated, and very uncertain about what to make of it. Michelle is working her butt off in a very stressful environment these days, and when she comes home she looks in the checkbook to find dwindling numbers. I've been fumbling around trying to figure out what planting a church looks like, and after seven months I have almost nothing to show for it . . . except for a near-minimum-wage job and a dwindling checkbook. We have found ourselves at a breaking point.

However, for some reason (a masochistic one, no doubt), I still feel like this is what I'm supposed to be doing. We talked through this a good bit, and basically decided to stay in the game. So as of yesterday, with a geographically shifted focus, I'm a church planter in Ramona, CA. We've actually lived here for almost three years, but our focus has always been "down the hill" from here in some other San Diego suburbs. But now, since we're not going to be moving away (as was the plan), we know we need to be the church with others in our own community.

In one way it's a hopeful thing, because I've been sitting on the fence too long about this, and I finally feel like I've got a good direction. I still don't know what this thing will look like, or whether I'll need to get a regular job in order to make this thing sustainable, but that's o.k. too.

My prayer is that God will direct me into the conversations I need to be having with the people I need to be having them with. I want to be a part of a the Kingdom dynamic here in Ramona. It's gonna be a different sort of thing than most Ramona folks have seen before . . . but that's a good thing too.

posted by Steve at 3:25 PM
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Monday, December 08, 2003

I got a good bit of reading done over the weekend. Mostly out of Eugene Peterson's Working the Angles. Good stuff. I'm not a book critic, but I think it could have been shorter. There are some really strong points in the book, but they are largely supported with some so-so filler stuff. Maybe it's just me. The introduction alone, though is worth the price of the book. So solid, so dead on, so needed. And given that this book was written in 1987, it's one of the more prophetic pieces of writing I've ever read. Ranks right up there with The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church by Roland Allen.

posted by Steve at 2:37 PM
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Friday, December 05, 2003

Life is particularly challenging in most areas right now. I won't use this space to vent or whine about all the things going on. I'll just cop to it and let it be. There are always choices to be made as to how to respond well to these challenges. I can't say I'm batting a thousand . . . heck, I'd settle for a tenth of that right now. These are the days that test faith, hope, and love.

posted by Steve at 10:31 AM
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Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Update time. It's been almost a week since my last post . . . that is my last successful post. I actually had a pretty decent little thing written up, which ended up lost in the blogosphere. I didn't even try to republish . . . few things are as disheartening to me as lost words.

O.k., where to start? Ummm, Thanksgiving. Yep, it was good. All day long with family and friends.

Ummm, how about Advent? We held our first little candle lighting gathering in our home on Sunday evening. We talked about the history of the Advent wreath and how it plugs into the story of God through the ages. We lit the first candle and prayed. I was not successful in getting word circulated through the neighborhood early enough, so we ended up with only one couple plus Michelle and I, and Matt and Marge. No worries, though. We had a good time. I'm thinking we'll have some more folks this Sunday.

Sunday was also the 7th anniversary of my marriage to Michelle. We spent the day together doing lots of things - mostly insignificant tasks that needed to be done. The day before we had spent a couple of hours driving to see some friends, so we had a lot of time to talk and catch up. The past several weeks have challenged our marriage in some new and unexpected ways. But these are the things that are making us a better couple - more patient, more understanding, more giving.

I'm feeling more and more of a sense of home when I drive up and down Main Street in Ramona. I've lived here almost three years now, but I've only just begun to feel like this is where I'm supposed to be. I sat in a local coffee shop reading and people watching this morning. I found myself wanting to become a regular there and get to know people. Next week I may go to the barber shop and get a haircut, just to hang out for a while.

posted by Steve at 10:01 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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