Sunday, July 31, 2005

I think I just at the best burrito I've ever had. That's what my taste buds are telling me. My head tells me I've had better, but I gotta tell ya, it was good. One of the things I took for granted in all my years in SoCal is the availability of a greasy burrito at any time of the day or night. I've been jonesing for a greasy burrito for so long . . . and after being here for a few days, I finally got one. Delightful. Super Sergio, your taco shop rocks.

The wedding tonight was awesome. Everything went smoothly. The couple was beautiful. The reception was terrific. I had some awesome conversations with people I met for the first time - people who are hungry for spiritual depth beyond the cultural bs of regular church. It's weird to me, because I know that the conversations were directly related to the fact that I officiated the wedding, and so I was the default person to have a spiritual dialogue with. One guy I talked to was honest enough to a)smoke a cigarette while talking to the "preacher" (a title I've always had difficulty accepting), b)admit that he was a little drunk while talking to me, and c)admit that he was jealous of the groom because he was going to have sex tonight, and my new friend wishes it was him. By the way, none of the above would "be allowed" in the culture this guy is from, but for some reason, he felt comfortable enough with me to be real.

This encourages me regarding the state of the emerging church. The more we welcome people on their terms and not ours, the more dialogues like this we'll have. Especially when it comes to people who have come from the Christian ghetto, we need to make space for people to admit that there's a lot of broken stuff in their lives - stuff that it hasn't been safe enough in churches to talk about.

Tomorrow's my last day in San Diego - more wedding stuff in the morning, and then a family get together. It's been cool hanging out with my parents, and seeing my sister and her kids. The kids keep telling me how much they miss me and how much they love me. Makes a guy feel good. Oh, and my mom has been letting me drive around her new car - it's a Toyota Prius hybrid. Pretty cool, really - but it's weird to push a button to start the thing, and then just hear a quiet hum - I keep waiting for the engine to turn over, but it just hums for a few seconds before I realize that yes, the car is ready to drive now, so let's get on with it.

I miss my wife. It's hard to be a part of a wedding, without having my own wedding partner with me. I'll see her in about 40 hours, though. Off to bed now.

posted by Steve at 12:27 AM
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Friday, July 29, 2005

I'm so fried right now. Super tired. I'm here in San Diego, blogging from my dad's computer. I've been here a little more that 48 hours at this point, and all but about 11 of those have been me on the go. I've been working in the SoCal heat at our house to get it ready to rent out. But I've also had a good bit of fun. My dad took me to see the Padres baseball game at Petco Park yesterday afternoon.

Then last night I got to go over to Jason and Brooke Evans' place for their regular community barbecue. Awesome time. I really miss Jason and Brooke - so much going on with them in life and ministry. Before I even got a chance to hang out, though, I ran into Ryan and Holly Sharp. Ryan and I have been having near miss moments in terms of meeting face to face for over a year now. So finally, I got to hang and talk with him - excellent. I truly hope to share air space with him again soon. Also in attendance was a guy Jason's been telling me about from the Mennonite stream, in Pasadena. He brought a couple with him who is on sabbatical in the U.S. from London. All three of them were super cool. In addition to all those fine people, there were the Hawthorn House locals, like Josh, and his wife Lisa, and the newest member of their community, Emily. I also got to hang out for quite a while with a new friend, David - good man, good story.

With all those people there, I didn't get to sit down and talk to Jason and Brooke until about 10:30 . . . and we talked until about 1:00am. Good times.

But I'm sleepy by now. I got up early and went back to work at the house this morning - my Northwest tan has been swallowed up by a slight SoCal sunburn. Hey, some color is better than no color, right? And right about now, I need to boogie, and run some errands before going to a wedding rehearsal - oh yeah, I did come to San Diego to officiate a wedding. I'm looking forward to that - more friends to catch up with. I'll make sure to get some sleep tonight, though, so I don't nod off while having the happy couple recite their vows tomorrow!

Peace, from the land of much sunshine.

posted by Steve at 1:51 PM
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Jordon Cooper wasn't the first blogger I read regularly, but he was one of the first. He has served the blogosphere well, and I believe he's served the church well. In addition to serving in local churches, he's added immeasurably to the conversation we in the newer streams of our faith are having. He reads more books in a month than I do in a year, links to places on the web I've never heard of but are almost always worth going to. I've never met him, but would be honored to. He is facing some serious health concerns these days - some that he's willing to write about on his blog, and apparently, some that he's not. Much love and prayer have gone out all over the web for Palmer and his intense physical/spiritual battles. For those of you who have joined this effort, I'd invite you to include Jordon and his family in your prayers too.

posted by Steve at 5:44 AM
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Sunday, July 24, 2005

I've had a few people asking me lately if I'm excited about my new job at the University of Washington (what we in the northwest call U-dub). The answer I've given is that yes, it's an exciting opportunity, but I've been too stinking busy to think much about it. I forget how much I said about the position in previous posts, and honestly, I'm too lazy right now to go back and read them. Anway, here's a bit about it.

I will be a collegiate ministry strategist for the Seattle metro area, focusing on the UW campus. The local association of churches in my stream at some point in the past was given a large building right on Greek row adjacent to the campus, with 23 rentable rooms, meeting space, and a full commercial kitchen. The building was given for the specific purpose of collegiate ministry. Interns come to be a part of the ministry, and there is currently a new church start that uses the building for gatherings.

So, college ministry will be a big part of what I do. However, I'm not very interested in doing college ministry the way it's come to be known. I won't fire off blasts at other campus ministry orgs, in part because I think they do some good stuff. I just think they've developed some systems and approaches (styles of evangelism in particular) that are broken. It's my intention to get to know those people, pray for them, and be an encouragement . . . even while we set out to do something different.

One of the visions for this position that was described to me before I accepted it, is for us to develop a school of sorts within our building - a training and sending place for missional people of all varieties. Some will be future church planters, missionaries, and pastors, but my dream is for most of our "student" to be future accountants, travel agents, baristas, stay at home moms/dads, etc. In other words, normal folk with an intentionally missional framework. What the school will become is what I get to dream about and hopefully develop.

If this job were all about developing another nice campus Christian club where timid young believers go to hide out from the scary secular campus ideology, I would have walked away from the offer. Thankfully, there is more to it. I'm very hopeful and at times jump out of my skin with excitement. But it's scary too. There's no template in front of me, and there's a heckuva lot of work ahead to make it happen.

For now, I've got some administrative things to do to make sure that the dream can be a financially sustainable possibility. But in the near future, I want to assemble (physically or electronically) a team of dreamers that will help develop some ideas and motives for what we do. If you'd like to jump into the idea pool, send me an e-mail and I'll be in touch.

posted by Steve at 6:50 AM
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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Man, it's been hard to focus lately. Too many details have me going in too many directions right now, and it makes me want to just go back to bed and do nothing. Changes in jobs, changes in school plans, getting ready for a trip to SoCal (and supposedly getting ready to officiate a wedding there). My mind wanders quite freely at times. Example: I'm in a hurry to get ready for work in the morning, and then I find myself standing in our tiny master bathroom staring at what I'm convinced is the second ugliest shower curtain in the world, just thinking, "I really need to take that thing down."

Heck, even now, I really ought to be reading something that will focus my mind on my Creator, or at least picking up the book I recently read (and enjoyed) and writing a quick reaction paper for school. But I blog. At least it's something. I'd really be bummed out if I had gotten out of bed before 5am just to watch the Fox news channel.

posted by Steve at 5:34 AM
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Monday, July 18, 2005

And you thought my blog was boring . . . Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with the dullest blog in the world.

posted by Steve at 11:26 AM
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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Maybe I'm just codependent . . .

Throughout the process of deciding to work in an official capacity with my denomination again I've been working through some ambivalence. There are some strong points to what this collection of churches does . . . and there are some very serious weak points. I've lost count of the number of church planters and leaders I've met that used to be in my denomination but bailed out because of those weak points. It seems more often than not that it's just not worth it.

I admit that a good lot of the time I feel the same way. But I keep coming back. It's usually because I'll run into someone who represents a glimmer of hope for change. My experience is that there are some who are gifted and persistent and open enough to change that they'll lead a charge in a good direction. Unfortunately, they tend to get bogged down in the system sooner or later and the end result is something less than hoped for.

In my current situation, I've run into a group that is actively looking for change, but they're not really trying to change the whole system. They just want to do what they do sort of below the radar. They keep a high enough profile to continue to engage the system at necessarily levels, but little more. There may come a time when they are forced to work through the system, but they're hoping to hold that off as long as possible.

Me? I want to do some things that would be radical enough to get fired in about 98% of the rest of the denomination. Funny thing is, I'm not even all that radical. And if I end up doing something that's radical enough to get me fired even here, then at least I'll know where I stand. I'm very content to be a fringe guy. It's just been a process of realizing that whether fringe or not, I'll be working for the system again. Not all bad, not all good.

posted by Steve at 12:00 PM
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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A day of big change . . .

Today was Michelle's last day with her employer, and now gets the (un)fun task of job hunting. Meanwhile, I voluntarily resigned from my job today. Yep, I just up and quit. O.k., not really that clean and easy, but I did give notice.

For the past couple of months, I've been courted by my denom to consider becoming a collegiate ministry strategist for them at the University of Washington. It's a really amazing opportunity that will demand lots of creativity, energy, and persistence. I'll blog more about what's involved as I get into the job and start getting to know people there. It's something quite different than collegiate ministries than I've been exposed to.

The down side to being offered the position, is that they are asking me to put my doctorate studies at George Fox on hold for one year. I understand, and at least partially agree with it, enough that I've agreed to the stipulation. But I'm disappointed. I was beginning to get pretty geeked about starting in August. Oh well. This will give me the chance to do all the catch up work that George Fox was asking me to do before completing the doctorate. I actually have about one year worth of work to do anyway, and my new job will allow me to do that.

Meanwhile, I have to close my time at Seattle Mental Health, where I've worked for the past five months. It seems like longer - perhaps because of the intensity of it. I've gotten many years worth of experiences from working with the clients and clinicians there. I'm grateful for the time I've spent there and will definitely miss it. Saying goodbye to my clients will be tough.

More later on all these big moves. For now I want to be as supportive of Michelle as possible. It wasn't long ago that I was in her position, so I know how much it sucks.

posted by Steve at 7:15 PM
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Monday, July 11, 2005

Was C.S. Lewis a universalist?

Yesterday I finished my latest school book, Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit, by Clark Pinnock. I'm not interested in turning this blog into a a play by play of all the classes I'm taking and the books that go with them, but I did run into some things here that triggered some thinking I hadn't yet done - especially regarding the concept of universalism. Now, like most "good" evangelicals, I've always automatically considered universalism, well, universally wrong. But this book got me to begin separating the terms universalism (God's Spirit and truth are active everywhere in the world, drawing people to Himself, including within "pagan" people and their religions) and syncretism (all religions are equally true and equally justify people before God), which I had always sort of held to be synonymous. But Pinnock got me going when he exerpted the following from C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle, the final book in The Chronicles of Narnia book series. A pagan soldier, Emeth, discovers that his service to Aslan's enemy, Tash, was more than it seemed:

I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be the Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of Thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service that thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him, for I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then though he say Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.

I know nothing about the movie that's coming out this December, but this makes me want to go back and read the chronicles before seeing it (I was in third and fourth grades when I read the books the first time). It's highly unlikely that I'll have the time, but I should go back and read them again anyway.

posted by Steve at 5:53 AM
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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

"As long as we keep attacking the symptoms of social disease--the so called offenders--then our problems will keep getting worse. Some day (soon I hope) society will be forced to "wake up" and recognize how it propagates its own misery by denying the truth that criminals are victims too."

This is a post from Joseph Duncan's blog. He's the accused kidnapper, and likely to be accused murderer of the family in Idaho. It's getting enough play already, so I won't link to it here. The scary thing is that what he writes is largely correct. I work with sex offenders all the time - in every case I've seen, without exception, the child molester was sexually abused in childhood himself/herself. It certainly doesn't excuse anything - please understand that I'm not saying that. Just know that these are tormented people. And if we are to think of them as enemies, then do what Jesus would, and pray for them. And then mourn and pray even harder for those they have harmed, that they will heal from their hurts and not become offenders themselves.

posted by Steve at 6:47 PM
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Who's healing who?

I just called one of my clients regarding an appointment for a chemical dependency evaluation . . . one required by the Department of Corrections as a condition of his probation. I got his voice mail, and it went a little something like this:

"Hi, this is [Client's Name], Chief Trainer and Therapist for [xyz company]. I'm away from my office right now, but leave a message and I'll get back to you quickly. Thanks."

Ummmmm, office . . . right. I actually visited him in his "office" about a month ago. We had to talk on a telephone, looking at each other through a wall of glass. He was dressed in a snappy red jumpsuit.

posted by Steve at 9:15 AM
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Found this on Wired this morning. Cool ways of overcoming the fact that technology that was once heralded as helping connect people has its downsides too.

posted by Steve at 8:25 AM
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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The great northwest adventure goes on . . .

Michelle was notified this morning that the company she works for is shutting down. The job that brought us here originally is no more. Anyone out there looking for an awesome biotech type person?

posted by Steve at 1:41 PM
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Andrew Jones still rocks. Here's a good summary of what's still cooking in the emerging church. Good discussion starter.

posted by Steve at 9:40 AM
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Most people who know me well know of my ambivalence when it comes to things of a patriotic nature. Even before I went through my radical deconstruction phase a few years ago, I would get very bothered at the "God and country" type services that our church would put on around Memorial Day and Independence Day. I get agitated when I walk into a church building and see an American flag on the platform. I'm not anti-America at all, but I don't believe that we Americans are the new version of the children of Israel. When I go to public events, I'm o.k. with removing my cap during the national anthem, but I'm hit and miss on how willing I am to recite the pledge of allegiance. I don't mean to be overly pious, but my allegiance is to another kingdom. I do think that this country has some major advantages over others, and the things America stands for are often healthy and admirable. I just don't think we're the perfect model of a utopian society. Nevertheless, I'm grateful for the freedom I enjoy, and the long holiday weekend. We got to spend a lot of time with old and new friends this weekend, which was a gift.

Yesterday was our first Independence Day here in the northwest. Big difference between here and San Diego. Having lived in a brush fire danger zone my whole life, the option of legally obtaining and setting off fireworks just hasn't been there. Fireworks are legal here - at least in my part of town, and the ability to set off one's very own explosions is quite popular. We've been hearing loud pops and whistles for several nights now, yesterday, of course, being the biggest. When you combine tht with the fact that it's not really dark enough to enjoy them until around 10pm, it was a late, loud night.

As I was laying in bed unable to sleep last night, I kept thinking that it sounded like battle zone outside. The booms and bangs were coming from near and far. It reminded me quite a lot of the Chinese New Year I spent in Taiwan. And while the noise didn't cause me too much alarm, I did keep thinking that this must have been what it sounded like in Baghdad in the early days of the current war. Except that the people there had actual large scale explosions going on all around them. They never knew which one was going to cause their house to crash and crumble. Regardless of their political leanings or their feelings about America, they huddled together waiting for the next bomb to drop. And the next one. And the one after that. That's very very sad. It put the whole Independence Day thing into perspective a little bit.

posted by Steve at 5:48 AM
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Saturday, July 02, 2005

One point of reflection I've had since meeting with Jim the other day is this: most people would rather think of themselves as "right" than "good." This includes many I've come across within the emerging church scene. Even while claiming to want to break the rules and be creative, they aren't willing to risk being dangerous, simply because they don't want to be wrong. This is primarily a theological reference, but it can bleed over into other areas as well. They pride themselves on having the right theology.

But I wonder how much thought they give to being good. A lot of us do good things, and we do them for good reasons (in other words, we have good motives). But are we focused on doing these things because we want to be good, or because it's just the right thing to do? I may be splitting hairs here, but this is an important concept to me. I want to not only live in a pattern that Jesus lived (which produces good actions), but want to be like Jesus . . . in other words, I want to be good. This is an incarnational statement. If I am good, and my heart is good, then good things will flow out.

Now, either approach - being right vs. being good can lead to spiritual pride. But if I am right, then I can take credit for my stellar and rigorous thinking and behavior. If I am good, I have to acknowledge that I am so partly because of my submission to the work of the Spirit, and partly because of the grace given to me as Jesus lives through me.

Just a couple of Saturday evening thoughts before I sit down to dinner with the one I love.

posted by Steve at 4:59 PM
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Friday, July 01, 2005

posted by Steve at 9:52 AM
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Brian McLaren just called, and he wants to have lunch with you . . . details here

posted by Steve at 8:55 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

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