Wednesday, May 30, 2007

TSK on MacArthur

Andrew Jones is at it again with another critic of the emerging church - this time it's John MacArthur. I haven't read his book, so I won't comment . . . but Andrew did read the book, and has a stellar review here. Quite funny, generous, and fair.

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posted by Steve at 9:15 AM
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Idealism and the People Pleaser

Idealism is a really great trait to have . . . except when it comes time for getting work done. This is one of the things I struggle with. I dream. Sometimes I dream big. Mostly I dream small to medium. But always when I dream, I dream the perfect, idealistic vision kind of dream. In other words, the kind of dream that is usually impossible to fully attain.

In fact, one of the reasons I don't dream really big more often is that I know from the get go that really big dreams have almost no shot at reality. Politics is a good example - at various times in my life, I've followed political goings-on, and thought about getting involved in local/naitonal causes. But I have always been quick to remind myself that many thousands have gone before me with the best of ideals and intentions, and gotten sucked into the corrupt game that politics often is. What makes me think I could outdo all those people?

I'm at a point in life and work where some of my dreams, while still very much in process, are conceivably within reach. But now is when the really hard work of bringing them to fruition is critical. And if I'm not willing to get some serious work done, the dreams just won't happen. Oh, and now is the time when I need to be willing to set some of that idealism aside. There have been times when fear of not measuring up to the ideal has frozen me into not doing anything. I have to let it be o.k. for the dreams to not be perfect. Knowing that I put my best into something and trusted God and others more has to be o.k., even if it could have been better.

Some people allow failure to be perfect to kill their spirits. Others use the failure to drive their quest for improvement and perfection. Idealism is a tricky thing - which side of failure would I rather call home?

In my present scenario, pursuing the dreams also includes making some decisions that are making life significantly harder on other people. That sucks. It just does. I hate confrontation, and being the bearer of bad news . . . I just want to run away and hide from it. But that's part of the deal. Personal integrity, respect for others, and most important, love, require that I tell the truth, and let it be o.k. for people to be pissed off at me . . . hopefully only for a little while, but maybe forever. I'm a people pleaser to the extreme, so that's a tough one, indeed. I couldn't even begin to count the number of times I've failed to do the right thing, in favor of not upsetting others. The times I've held the line have produced what was needed, but have often been miserably stressful. It's still worth it, though.

Sorry for the lack of direction here, and the lack of specificity in what these "dreams" are . . . I'll share more in the weeks to come. But sometimes it's good to take a peek behind the surface, where conflicted feelings (and the dreams themselves) reside.


posted by Steve at 5:40 AM
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Friday, May 25, 2007

Living the 4th Commandment

I spent the past few days in the land of paradoxy. I was at a retreat for my colleagues in Northwest Collegiate Ministries - folks from all over Oregon, Washington, and Northern Idaho. The topic of the retreat was Sabbath . . . which sounded ever so refreshing to me. Unfortunately, because I don't get a chance to see my friends in ministry that frequently, I stayed up way too late, and got way too tired . . . quite un-Sabbath-like! But hey, at least it took place just in front of a three day holiday weekend, right? Sabbath time indeed!

The presentations given by my boss-man, and good friend Wes and his wife Charlene were really terrific. It wasn't just about convincing us that it's good to take a day off - they actually did a terrific job of making it real for people. In particular, I was pleased with how they integrated personality types into the discussion.

At one point, Charlene talked about how inconsistent and hypocritical we are when it comes to the 10 Commandments. We place great importance on the marital fidelity thing and the coveting thing (which is, of course, good), but we very regularly totally dismiss the Sabbath rhythms that remind us that we're finite, and most assuredly NOT God.

I am going to make strong efforts at developing a workable Sabbath rhythm. It'll be hard, I know. But what a great place to start in being counter-culture in our workaholic, consumeristic culture.

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posted by Steve at 5:58 PM
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Secular Student Union

Last night I attended an event with the University of Washington Secular Student Union , co-sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. They brought Jim Henderson in to talk about his recent experiences of buying the souls of atheists, writing books with atheists, being nice to atheists, etc. He nailed it. It was the best I've seen Jim speak - probably more transparent with them than he is with a lot of the pastors he speaks to. After the event, about 8 of us went and ate Indian food for a couple hours and continued the conversation.

I have to say, I was super impressed by the students there (most of whom were atheists). They're not looking to win arguments, make religious people mad, or get militant about changing the Constitution. The questions they asked Jim were insightful and genuine. It was a good time, definitely.

Jim also told me a little about what's in the works for this year's Off The Map event in November. It's a bit of a different format from the past couple of years, but sounds creative, energetic, and musically delicious.

posted by Steve at 6:26 AM
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Monday, May 21, 2007

Facebook me

O.k., so I've blogged before about the wonders of Facebook. Working within an environment of college students, it's been on my radar for a while now. I think I joined up about a year and a half ago. But since they recently opened up membership to non-students, I've noticed more and more of my friends popping up there . . . except I don't know who is and who isn't signed up. So hit me up, yo! Add me as a friend . . . I promise I wont stalk you.

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posted by Steve at 11:50 AM
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Friday, May 18, 2007

Big week

This week has passed by quickly, but certainly not without notice. I've been in a bunch of meetings, culminating in some important decisions and new directions for the ministry I lead. It's exciting, scary, energizing, painful, exhausting, hopeful stuff - an emotional cocktail. I can't go completely public with the details just yet, but I'll dish soon.

I'm looking forward to this evening, when my buddy Jeff Greer will play a benefit concert for us at the Perkatory Cafe at The Purple Door. He's a super cool man, whose facial hair has been featured on the most trafficked emerging church blog in the world. Our musical tastes are right up the same alley, so I know I'll be lovin' life, even as I pull espresso shots for the masses. We're giving all of our coffee donations (Perkatory has no set prices - it's by donation only) to the University of Washington chapter of Habitat for Humanity to support their building projects around King County.

Good times, but tiring times. Happily, I'm going off to a retreat thingy next week, which will focus on the theme of Sabbath . . . timely.

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posted by Steve at 9:42 AM
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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I'm going to withhold my own commentary (good, bad, and indifferent) on the death of Jerry Falwell. You want to know what others are saying, though? Digg has a story with close to a thousand comments . . . brutal.

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posted by Steve at 7:55 PM
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Monday, May 14, 2007

Not a good sign

Yesterday morning, I had a conversation with a UW student who lives at The Purple Door. He's Jewish (by culture more than belief), and is considering joining the UW fraternity that is primarily Jewish in membership. He told me something I didn't know - the frat house they occupy is next door to the home base for the campus Islamic organization. Ironic indeed. Sadly, even among these enlightened, educated, hopeful young people, the same kinds of tensions arise that take place in the Middle East - bottles and bricks have flown between the two in some isolated incidents. The parking lot that separates the two buildings is known as the Gaza strip. Clever. I don't think anything has reached fever pitch, and hopefully it won't, but it's definitely disappointing to hear this stuff.

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posted by Steve at 8:11 PM
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Friday, May 11, 2007

This is not a political post

I'll just admit it - I'm an addict. I am a faithful fan of public radio's This American Life. I'm a week or two behind schedule on my podcast listening, but this morning, I tapped into their episode "Habeas Shmabeas 2007," which was an updated version of an episode they did a year ago - an episode which won them a Peabody Award. It talks about the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, detailing some of their stories.

Now, I don't care what you think about the war on terrorism, but this stuff is just outrageous. I'm not typically very politically active, and I greatly dislike the rhetoric of the major political parties, but I will say this - after listening to this show, I'm all of a sudden sympathetic to some of the cries for impeachment of the president and vice-president (to be clear, sympathetic doesn't mean endorsement . . . just sympathetic, for now).

I tried really hard to listen to this show with objectivity, taking a devil's advocate position in my mind. But ultimately, I was won over. I'm more than willing to listen the other side of the story, too. I have a hard time believing there are many convincing points in favor of the practices described. Enough of my ranting already - go listen!

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posted by Steve at 3:06 PM
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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Denominational words on evangelism worth listening to

Nobody ever accused me of having a shortage of negative things to say about my denomination. But in anticipation of the big annual meeting next month, the President of the denom (mostly a figure-head PR position) said the following about evangelism:
It is time to emphasize evangelism with integrity. No longer should we use manipulative methods that may bring about larger numbers when those persons' commitment to Christ is little or none.
Evangelism without manipulation? That is a much needed step in the right direction.

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posted by Steve at 9:42 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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