Friday, July 30, 2004

On Wednesday evening I got to hang out for a while with none other than My Valentine, er, The Living Home-boy, Jason Evans. It's been a couple of months since I saw him, and even longer since we had a good sit down talk. He and Brooke and their kids have been in a housing transition for several weeks now, but very soon they'll be able to move into their new place in San Diego. I'm really stoked for them to be able to move into this new phase of life and ministry.

I've been working like a dog this week - mostly outside in 90+ degree heat. I've gotten a lot done, but I am tired. I watched bits and pieces of the Democratic National Convention, mainly to observe the pop-culture side of it. I'm pretty sure that all the news media could save some money and re-air their tapes of this instead of sending out their crews to New York for the Republican convention. Same fluff. If I hear another speech talking about someone being a "uniter, not a divider" I may just have to shoot myself. All the political analyst types seem very impressed with John Kerry's speech last night - I must have missed something.

posted by Steve at 11:33 AM
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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Some thoughts on longevity . . .

Michelle and I started obedience training school over this past weekend.  We took the new puppy too.  It was tiring and challenging, but informative and helpful.  When we went home to work on our homework, I found a newspaper article in the manual we were supposed to read.  It talked about the instructor who is teaching our class.  It said that he's been doing dog training for over 25 years.  O.k., cool, pretty impressive.  But it also said the guy is 79 years old.  Not bad.  He's on the doorstep of 80, and teaching these classes several times each week, not to mention breeding and training his own dogs.  I'll be stoked to be actively doing what I love at that age.

What really struck me about the guy, though, is not how old he is.  It's how old he was when he started this gig.  A 25 year career is pretty good . . . but he started in his mid-50's.  That's still 20 years off for me.  Both of my parents have completed their Master's degrees - both after the age of 50.  Again, 20 years off for me.

And while I'm reminded that I don't have any guarantees I'll make it to my 50's, it does give me some hope.  For as hard as this church planting thing has been, and for all the times I've felt like a failure, it's o.k.  Even if I completely got this stuff wrong, and I'm supposed to be in another place doing something different with my life, there's still time to adjust and trust and grow.  There's still time to blunder and have fun and figure out how to glorify God creatively.  There's still time to make today count.

posted by Steve at 6:47 AM
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Friday, July 23, 2004

A nice take on preaching . . . from Beyond:

The converted, the congregation, united by certain beliefs, share amongst themselves bewilderment, despair, hope needing amplification, confusion needing examination and elucidation, and avenues of interesting and productive inquiry. Lockstep congregations are a sure sign of a moribund faith, of the absence of anything Divine. A good preacher rattles her congregants’ smugness and complacency, and congregants to do the same for the preacher. Good preachers are exhilarating to listen to, and the converted have a lot to think about. So this "preaching to the converted" question doesn’t address all religious practice, or all theater — just crummy religion and inept theater.
read more

posted by Steve at 9:42 AM
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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Mr. Todd Hunter is blogging once again.  I'm hoping he makes good on his promise to be more consistent.  He's one of my favorite teachers.  I find value in almost anything he has to say.

posted by Steve at 8:50 PM
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Monday, July 19, 2004

And life goes on . . . Michelle's folks are rebuilding after the fire. Posted by Hello

posted by Steve at 2:59 PM
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Yesterday I went to the worship gathering of a fairly new church not too terribly far from where I live.  I met the pastor about a year ago, so I go check in with him every so often.  The church is what many would call postmodern or alternative.  I'm not sure what I'd call it, so I'll just stick to "church."  Whatever they are, they've grown to over 1,000 in worship attendance in about two years time.  I realize that there's a healthy discussion going on about whether churches of 1,000+ (or even 500, 200, 50, 25) are a good thing or not - I'll leave that one alone for now.
The thing that I had rattling around in my head, though, was a discussion that Jordon Cooper raised on his blog a couple weeks ago.  It goes something like this: in the "emerging church", we've got all these heady notions of all the things that we're changing.  But when you step back and really evaluate things, are we really changing more than about 10%?  In the case of this new church, I can honestly say "absolutely not." 
Here's what I noticed.  I drive into the parking lot of a big industrial type building, park my truck and walk toward the entrance.  Between my truck and the seat I select inside the meeting space, I am greeted by about five people - all of which are obviously "assigned" to stand in a spot and say hello to people as they come in.  One of these people hands me some paper, with announcements and church information on it.  I sit down, and the band leader on stage begins to play and sing and invite people to sing along.  We sing three or four songs together - all but one I've heard before in other churches over the past five years.  Then the pastor gets up on stage and tells everyone to say hello to the people around them.  We sit down, read scripture, listen to people talk about what God is doing in their lives, pray again, and are dismissed.
Now, let me say that I enjoyed my time with this body of the Church.  Cool people, relaxed atmosphere, music that I relate to (played by a dude with dreadlocks). 
But then I remembered what I had seen on the church website earlier in the day, when I had gone to find out what their service times were.  On one of the pages, it told their story as a church.  It says something like, "In those early days, we reconsidered what it means to be a church.  It wouldn't have been unusual to hear questions like, 'Why do we have music in church?' or 'Why do we gather for a worship service?'"  I happen to know that there are some very intelligent, genuine people who love God, and want to be sensitive to the Spirit there.
So my question for them would be, "Why is it that after all this questioning and consideration did it turn out that your church looks almost exactly like the vast majority of other churches in the area?"  Go back and read the paragraph describing my experience and tell me if there's anything different.  Did the process of considering the aspects of church life bring you to the conclusion that most churches have gotten it right?
Some questions I have:
1. Is there an actual need for change from the "traditional" church to the "emerging" church?
2. If so, how much of the formula needs to change?
3. What is the proper motivation for change?
4. What would actual change look like?
5. What are the measures that might help us evaluate whether anything substantial has changed or not?
I'm sure there are other questions.  For the most part, I think that what we have come to think of as "revolutionary" or "adventurous" or "innovative" is actually not all that impressive.  I think we like to think of ourselves as having done something different mostly as a mind trip - "Oooh, lookie here at the cool stuff we're doing.  We're breaking the 'rules' and being dangerous."  We need to get over ourselves.  Seems to me that we're looking for praise from other people, by developing all these pseudo-new things.  Let's be open to change, but when we do change, let's do it to improve our worship of the only One deserving of it.  Let's have fun and be crazy and get jiggy before our God, but only because we are interested in increasing His glory in our joy.

posted by Steve at 10:05 AM
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Saturday, July 17, 2004

Praying for Rudy C. and his family right now.  His son has been diagnosed with leukemia.  He's got a blog set up for updates.  Just about the time I start feeling sorry for myself . . . 

posted by Steve at 8:07 AM
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Monday, July 12, 2004

Another new week and not much has changed. Michelle got back from her conference thingy and we spent some time together this weekend. That was good. But we're both really battling a funk. By God's grace, when each of us have been in a hard place in the past, the other has been strong enough to offer encouragement and lighten the load a little. This is harder, though, because we're both there. We kind of feel like we're in a holding pattern and can't really count on much. We are still very much there for one another.

Hmmm, maybe this mood we're in is the fault of one of the newer CDs in my collection: Morissey, You Are the Quarry

posted by Steve at 8:01 AM
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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Well Michelle left for a conference this morning - she'll be gone until Friday evening. I'll miss her. I was thinking, though, that this will give me a chance to practice some spiritual disciplines that are more difficult to practice when she's here (i.e. fasting, solitude). Then I thought some more and realized that solitude will be a challenge with the new puppy around. Oh well. It's the heart of the matter that is most important anyway. As C.S. Lewis and others have wisely said, the disciplines are helpful in resetting our appetites. It isn't that my desires for food, money, power, sex, etc. are too strong, but that my desire for God is too weak.

Father, please train my senses on the pleasure of knowing you. The discipline that I know will chasten me is well worth the pleasure of seeing your glory and living in the courts of your kingdom.

posted by Steve at 1:55 PM
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Sunday, July 04, 2004

I guess the more things change, the more things stay the same. It was seeming like Michelle and I were gaining a bit of stability recently in terms of her job situation and some of my church planting efforts. Hmmmm. I guess things aren't always what they seem. Now we've got options ranging from me getting a "real" job and Michelle going back to school for an MBA to moving to the East Coast (think either grits or chowder) for a few years.

I've been working on a landscaping project quite a bit lately. We moved into a brand new home well over three years ago, and have focused our home improvement efforts on the inside - paint, window coverings, etc. That has left the outside almost completely untouched. But now we have a little entry area that has kick butt irrigation, a beautiful fountain, a nice thick layer of cow manure (courtesy of a local dairy about a mile down the road), and I think we're up to nine plants in it. More to come - like doing drainage and irrigation, and then grass and more planting beds for our side yard, which is a mere three thousand square feet or so. Have I mentioned that in my neck of the woods it gets over 90 degrees (F) pretty regularly? Note to self: increase daily water intake.

posted by Steve at 4:18 AM
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Cute little puppy update . . .

4:15am. That nice doggy in the picture there woke me up to go outside over an hour ago. She's sleeping fine. I'm . . . well, I'm blogging, right?

posted by Steve at 4:15 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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