God in my life.
Hello and welcome to my website, AnExpressionOfGrace.org. My name is Eddie Lewis and I have been a professional trumpet player since the mid 80’s and a private trumpet instructor since 1980. Just to give you an idea of how much of a “pro” I am, if you took all the day jobs I ever had and added the durations of them together, it would total just short of a year. Later in my career, from 1997 to 2004, I even stopped teaching trumpet lessons and was making about 99% of my income from gigs. You can read more about the details of my trumpet playing career at http://eddielewis.com.
Now that you know that I am a genuine professional musician, the rest of this introduction page will be spent telling you about my life as a Christian. The Expression of Grace story is a story taken directly from my life experiences and I feel it is important that you understand what kind of Christian I am if the story is going to make any sense.
The story is written in a more colloquial style than my recent, more formal writing. This is on purpose. I want you to see me as a real person so that the details of the story seem real enough to you to apply them to your own life.
So let’s begin this introduction with the story of my day of salvation. I asked Christ into my heart at a very young age. I was in third or fourth grade and visiting my grandparents. It was in a Sunday school class at a Lutheran church, downstairs in the basement. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were coloring a picture of a heart with a door in it and Jesus was knocking.
I had gone to Sunday school throughout my entire childhood. This wasn’t a first for me. But for some reason, things clicked that morning and I had an understanding I didn’t have before.
Many born again Christians tell me that it is impossible to have gone through this so young in my life. They are wrong. I think when you consider the context of my life, it is easy to understand how I could accept Jesus as my savior at such a young age. My father was in the military and we were moving from city to city every six months. It didn’t seem like such a big deal back then. You do what you have to do and at that point in my life, I didn’t know anything different. But I think having that option of having Christ in my life offered the stability that I needed at the time. Jesus would be with me everywhere I went from that point forward.
I asked Jesus into my heart and began my relationship with Him. I grew up that way. I always had Jesus to turn to no matter what was going on in my life. As I got older, I relied on Him for different things. The stability – that was a big one. God is unchanging. He is the rock we can cling to in tempestuous times. He is our fortress, our protection from the cares and worries of this world.
Yes, it all began that day when we colored the heart in Sunday school. That was the beginning of a lifelong adventure. There was no celebration and I don’t think anyone knew what had happened to me that morning. But my life changed and I have grown up with Christ Jesus always with me, guiding me in along the different paths my life has taken since.
Moving forward now, to seventh grade, my father was stationed in Hawaii. It was there that I had an actual conversation with God about being a professional trumpet player. He told me that as long as His love would shine through my music, He would provide for my earthly needs.
I think part of the reason why I don’t share this part of my story very often is because His promise to me is sort of redundant. After all, this promise was already made in His word. (Luke 12:22) But once again, you have to look at it in context. Ever since I was a child, people have told me – over and over again – that it just can’t be done. My father used to tell me that I was going to have to get a job to support my “music habit.” So for me to move forward in a music career, I needed to be standing on the promise God made gave me in junior high school.
I remember the day my father realized that it really was going to work out, that I really was going to be able to make a living in music. I had been living in Houston for a few months by that time and my parents had come to visit for a week. My father went with me to one of the gigs. At that time, I was a member of a cumbia band (Cumbia is a south American style of music. The band I played with, Promessa, played mostly Mexican cumbias and rancheras). I played with that band for almost two years I think. When we got home from that gig, my father was almost in tears when he said, “I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.”
My father was a good man and never let his opinion affect his support for me. So I don’t want to make it sound like he ever tried to discourage me. He didn’t. He just never believed it was possible and was concerned that I was making a big mistake. But people have always told me that making a living in music was impossible unless you become some kind of celebrity.
God’s message to me when I was in seventh grade was that it was possible and that He would take care of all of my earthly needs for as long as I let His love shine through my music. I have lived my life this way all along. I’ve never been an angry, ugly musician. That’s one of those things that sets me apart from other musicians, I think, is that anger….the rage. You won’t find any of that in my music. I am certainly not criticizing musicians who play that way. As you will read later in this story, I believe in musical sincerity and expressing your feelings. I’m simply pointing out that the negative stuff that you see in much of the music today will never be part of my music. God’s love for me, shining through my music, is really the core ideal behind the entire Expression of Grace story.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. At this point, I’m just trying to tell you about how the message from God has shaped my music career…
I remember when I did a recording session in the early 1990’s. While the producer was handing me my check he said, “I like the way you play. Your sound is modern but it doesn’t repulse.”
What he was hearing was a modern musician playing in the style of the time, but with God’s love shining through that music, not the anger and hatred people have come to expect from serious, modern musicians. The message I received from God in seventh grade is the foundation of my musical efforts.
II Corinthians 3:18
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Beginning in the 1980’s, I began a series of what I was calling “Spiritual Journeys.” I documented these journeys in the journal I was keeping at the time. These were periods in my life when I put the Bible to the test by going out of my way to live the way it prescribes. I wanted to see just how far I could take it and what the results would be.
Those results were life shaping to say the least. God keeps His promises to us and we should all know what those promises are and believe in Him.
The reason I think it matters for you to know about this part of my life, to know about the journeys, is because this shows you the kind of Christian I am. I am not a “punch the time card every Sunday” type of Christian. I have been making efforts to actually live a life with God at its center for as long as I can remember. It is this “life style” which lead to what is now called “An Expression of Grace.”
What did I do on these spiritual journeys?
In every day of our lives we are faced with decisions. We are asked to choose God’s ways or the world’s ways. If you have images of me walking around like a monk, cut off from the world, then that’s not at all what my journeys were like. It was all about choosing God at each fork in the road.
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
The journey began with believing the Bible and believing in Jesus. The second leg of the journey took me into the tests. What kinds of tests? Other translations include the word “Temptation” here. Thus, the second leg of these journeys dealt with not being tempted away from God’s ways. The temptations I had to resist are different from what others might have to. Everyone is at a different place in their walk with God. Drinking alcohol was never a temptation for me. But gossip was. Musicians love to gossip and as Christians we know that this is wrong. Gluttony was another one of the temptations I had to resist in order to move forward in this quest. So the second leg of these journeys was the resistance of temptation.
The third leg of the journey was to endure being “choked” by the worries of this world. My worries included finances, love life, career concerns and other things of this nature. I remember during the first journey, I was in two accidents, not one, but two wrecks in a week…..both of them almost identical. Both of them involved older, more wealthy, more respectable drivers and I was ticketed when I didn’t believe I had done anything wrong. The way I behaved in that context could have been influenced by the “worries of this world” but I didn’t let that happen. I chose God’s path for my life instead of letting my emotions control the outcome of those accidents.
God wants us to pass our worries and concerns over to Him. He wants to take care of us and will turn all situations around to serve His own purposes. When His purposes are served, He, being our heavenly Father, also serves our needs.
I specifically remember two of these journeys from my mid twenties. The second one never really ended. Both were meant to be temporary experiments, but the second one continued because I realized, in my efforts, that this was a better way to live.
This is the context which led to An Expression of Grace. I am a man who enjoys trying things out to see if they work…..experimenting with things most people don’t experiment with. When An Expression of Grace was an infant thought, I put the same kind of analysis and thought into it that many people would put into a more physical experiment for a science class. In a way, you could say that “An Expression of Grace” was my third spiritual journey.
Not More Holy
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and
this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works,
so that no one can boast.”
I want to emphasize here that I’m not saying that I am more holy than anyone else. I do not boast in my own accomplishments because without Christ I have accomplished nothing. The purpose of this introduction is only to establish what kind of Christian I am and I share this information only because it is relevant to the story. I do not seek glory for being good because I am not so good. I have my failings. It is Christ’s work within me that is good. Everything else in my life falls far short.
I read a book last night by a nineteenth century evangelist named Andrew Murray. In it he talks about two kinds of knowledge; the knowledge we gain from books and other people and the deeper inner knowledge which comes from Christ within us. He compares the knowledge we gain from the world to the law of the Old Testament. He says that the law is only good because it ultimately leads us to Christ. Most mature Christians understand this to be true. No matter how much we try, in our own strength, to live a Christian life, we always fall short. Christ became the fulfillment of the law and now we have the ability to live a truly Christian life by relying on His strength instead of our own.
Murray’s book points out that the knowledge we gain is the same way. It is only good in that it leads us to Christ. All of the practice time, all of the self control we muster, every effort we make to prop ourselves up in this musical career of ours, all falls short and in the end we find that we can’t do any of it without Christ.
One more thing on this point before I close this introduction: my wife and I have been talking a lot lately about the “five fold ministry” and when you look at things from that perspective, it’s obvious what kind of minister God has called me to be. It’s obvious because I have been this type of minister since as long as I can remember (even before my day of salvation). It’s something that comes naturally to me. I am a teacher. So is my wife. We are both teachers called to share the Word with people in this very specific way.
I had an argument with a colleague not long ago. At one point he screamed at me and said, “I don’t need a teacher.” At that point I knew immediately that I was ministering to the wrong person. He needed more of a pastoral ministry in his life and that’s not what I’m called to be. I don’t think he knows anything about the “five fold ministry” so he probably didn’t know how conclusive his words were to me. But yes, the bottom line is that this is what God has called me to be. I am a teacher. I’ve always been a teacher and it is in that spirit that I share the stories and information on this website.
Some people, like my colleague, react very negatively to teachers. They are offended by teachers. I know this from experience. We are constantly accused of being “holier than thou.” I guess there is a false assumption that if someone is teaching, then that person must think he is better than the person he is teaching. But the hand is not better than the foot and we are all different “members” of the body of Christ.
No, I’m not more holy than anyone else. I don’t see myself that way. I am a teacher, called to share Christ with people who want to learn. That doesn’t make me more holy. It only gives me a clear definition of what I’m called to do in this life.
Who is it for?
This website and story are intended for Christian musicians first, other Christians second and non-Christians who would like to know more about Jesus third.
Questions for you to consider:
1) What kind of Christian are you? Do you ask God to be involved in everything in your life, even the little things? Or do you only seek Him out when you have tried everything else and seem to have no hope?
2) Have you ever tested the word of God? Have you ever walked on His promises just to see what would happen?
3) Which “seed” are you? Have you heard the “good news” but not believe? Do you easily turn from God when you are tempted? Do you only live a Christian life for as long as you are not challenged with the worries of this world?