Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Service

Hello Community,
If you would like to worship God with us this Sunday, we will do so through giving gifts to the River Haven Community in Oxnard. We will be meeting at River Haven at 10:30am to give the water containers that were donated, and possibly to sing carols with our friends there. If you need directions scroll down and you will find a map from when we last held a service there.

Hope to see many of you there, if not, have a wonderful day celebrating the birth of our king.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

Do you think you know the story of Daniel's three Hebrew companions? If do you great, if not, fear not soon you will.
This Sunday we are going to watch "Rack, Shack, and Benny" a video which will tell the story of these three Hebrews in exile, a bit better than Darren and my videos and skits. After watching this amazing musical, we will be exploring the implications of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego's actions on our lives.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Morality of the World

The New Testament is never interested in conduct and behavior in itself. I can go further to say that the New Testament does not make an appeal for good behavior to anyone but to Christian people. The New Testament is not interested, as such, in morality of the world. It tells us quite plainly that you can expect nothing from the world but sin, and that in its fallen condition it is incapable of anything else. There is nothing, according to the New Testament that is so fatuous and so utterly futile, as to turn to such people and appeal to them to live the Christian life…. The Truth is that it only has one message for people like that—the message of repentance.-Martin Lloyd-Jones (Faith on Trial)

I mentioned this quote in passing last week, (not super sure if anyone caught it though) and it has been challenging me. I have two questions relating to it:
1. What does this quote imply for Youth Ministry, especially for teens parents who hope that youth groups/summer camps will produce such morality?
2. Without giving much credit to the religious right, does this effect our role in politics as voting Americans? Do we vote for morality that will be regulated on others?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Living in Captivity


My country, ‘tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died,
Land of the Pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountainside
Let freedom ring.

Our fathers’ God, to Thee
Author of liberty
To thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!

Should God be America's king? Not should God be the king of some individuals living in America, but should we desire for God to be king over the politics of the Nation-State of America?
I don't think so, but feel free to disagree. Although many Americans feel that America has more in common with Ancient Israel than its enemy Babylon, I believe that we live in a country that is not a theocracy, and in which we must learn how to live as sojourners, as aliens. To do so, we began our study of Daniel today, looking at Daniel chapter 1, as an example of a God fearing man living an exemplary life in a "sanctified subversion" fashion. It is in the book of Daniel that we can see a man of God, living under the rule of a "pagan" King choosing not to rebel, not to fight for Godly moral standards for the land which he now occupies, and choosing not to live on the sidelines either, holding a meaningless Godrepresentative office, but rather striving to give glory to his creator, and striving to bless others. It seems like a nice model, so off we go, examining the life of a God fearer in captivity:

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

History of Judah's last kings

In preparation for our study on Daniel and the Exilic period, we examined the lives of the Kings of Judah, leading up to Nebuchadnezzer's victory. Rather than reading through 5 chapters of text out loud, each group was assigned a king and a narrative which they had to act out. Unfortunately we had no recording devices present to capture the moments forever, but Freddy's portrayal of King Josiah DEFEATING pharaoh Neco was inspiring.

2 Kings 23:29
29 While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Neco faced him and killed him at Megiddo.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


This Sunday we are going to go through a Labyrinth

No, not David Bowie's Labyrinth, but I would like to see that movie again. I haven't seen it since I was in the third grade, and I remember hearing that it had a Mesianic message or something. Recently a student challenged that statement, so I think that I need to watch it. Hopefully it's out on DVD.
This Sunday we are going to participate in a different type of Labyrinth. We are going to participate in the virtual labyrinth online together. I thought about actually creating a labyrinth on the floor like this one,
but instead will bring objects to the table to contemplate with at different points of the labyrinth.
If you unfamiliar with the Christian history of labyrinths, google Christian Labyrinths and see what you can discover.

A Holy Walk

To walk the labyrinth is to touch God
and let God touch us.
It is a matter of presence
and response. The labyrinth
does nothing to make God more
present... for God
is always present.
The labyrinth can make us
aware of the presence of God
in our lives.
So be silent.
Receive God's gifts.
Go in peace on your journey.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ojai Film Festival

This Sunday, we will again not be meeting at the youth sanctuary, but will instead be gathering together at the Ojai Playhouse. If you were unaware, this weekend is Ojai's Film Festival, and on Sunday from 10:00am to 12:00pm the Ojai Playhouse will be showing films made by So. Cal teens. Hosting the event will be a successful young filmaker, Taron Lexton who will be sharing his music video, United, which, "ranks as one of the largest human rights film productions in histroy. Filmed throughout 14 countries and involving over 2000 volunteers, this video was created as a project for Youth for Human Rights." Sounds like a worthwile thing to experience together, so here we go. Try to arrive a little before 10:00am so that we can sit together, and then after the event, those who are available can go to Libby to discuss.

You must provide your own ride both to the playhouse, and home, we will not be meeting at the church. If you need a ride, be sure to e-mail me so that I can set you up with one.

Monday, October 17, 2005

River Haven Service by the Beach

What a site! Community's banner hanging over/under the No Tresspassing sign leading to River Haven's new site. It was great visiting with our friends of River Haven, and being able to bless them not only with a solar trickle generator, a brand new EZ-up, new tarps and jackets, and breakfast, but also with a church service brought to them.
They seemed to enjoy being able to Worship God with us, talk with us during table talk about what the world thinks "a good Christian" looks like, and hear how Christ's great commission appplies to us in our given situations. It was awesome to reconnect with Debbie, Mark, and Jessie, and to meet new friends like Chris and Tanya. It sounds like they would like for this to be a quarterly thing, so hopefully we will make it out there before waiting another six months. Maybe a Christmas service?

Doing donughts in Freddy's car with Mark and Jessie riding along was pretty awesome too!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

River Haven Part II

Tomorrow we will be having our worship service with the River Haven community again. Their semi-permanent location is now across the street from McGrath state beach, right next to the Olivas Park golf course.
Exit Seaward and go towards Ventura Harbor, on Harbor Blvd. (Go 45mph, there are usually speed traps).

On Harbor you will go about a mile before passing Olivas Park Dr. (there will be a street light). Then just after going over a bridge, you will see a small driveway for McGrath state beach. Use this driveway as an opportunity to make a U-turn, so that you are heading back towards Olivas Park dr. Just before Olivas Park Dr. you will see a chain link fence on your right, and a small opening in the fence that you can drive through. There should be a small sign on it that says "River Haven" and I think that I will try to hang our "Community" sign there too.

Ojai Day

On Saturday Community operated its first Ojai Day booth. It was great to see people from OVCC and from the community, and to display art from participants of our worship services. It also was a great place to showcase and distributes copies of our film, "God Questions." Huge thanks to all who helped fill the booth with works of art, and to those who helped man the booth, answer people's questions, and represent Community.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Ring of Gyges

Given the power of invisibility, what would be the first thing that you would do? The second? We were challenged yesterday with the parable of the two servants, which shows us that what we do when no one is around, reveals what our hearts are truly like.
Regarding the invisibility thing, I think that we need to recognize that it is impossible for us to ever be in a situation where we are free from morals, accountability, responsibility and consequences. Although our "Master" isn't visibly with us, he will return, and will call us to account for all of our actions. That's probably the main point, not to focus on why we think of immoral things when challenged with the question of invisibilty, but for us to remember that we're not invisible, and the we do all serve a master.

Friday, September 16, 2005

River Haven Needs

I spent some time on Thursday with our friends from River Haven, (they are now living by the Ventura Harbor), and they passed on some needs to me. If you have any of the following items, please e-mail me.

Gas cans
Needle Nose Pliers
Volt reducer
Vinyl table cloths & clips
Solar Panel
Shade canopies
Penny nails
Wood Pallets
½” or ¼” plywood
Queen air mattress
King/queen/twin sheets
Camp shower
New tarps
Dual fuel lanterns
Small tie downs
Heavy plastic patio furniture
Tent stakes
9” nails with washers
Pots and pans
Napkin holders
Paper towel pole
Large chairs
Plastic sink
Queen mattress & box springs
Solar panels
Clothesline/clothes pins
Spiral notebooks
Handheld electronic games

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Some more paintings from our August 21st painting service

Worshiping God through painting

After watching a brilliant short film which highlights our ability to paint as a form of worship to God, and a brief introduction to seeing painting as worship, we spent the rest of the service watercoloring for God's refrigerator.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


CommunityCommunity is in for a treat on Sunday. Since Ryan will be out of town taking over 80 students to Hume Lake for the week, Richie will be facilitating Community's service, leading those gathered in Lectio Devina. If you have never participated in this before, you may find this way of reading scripture challenging, and helpful.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Spiritual Cosmetics

Our table talk discussion today focused on an excerpt from Brennan Mannings' book, The Ragamuffin Gospel:

The Good News means we can stop lying to ourselves. The sweet sound of amazing grace saves us from denying that though Christ was victorious, the battle with lust, greed, and pride still rages within us. As a sinner who has been redeemed, I can acknowledge that I am often unloving, irritable, angry, and resentful with those closest to me. When I go to church I can leave my white hat at home and admit I have failed. God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this I don't need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness.

We questioned whether or not we feel this freedom, of leaving one's white hat and spiritual cosmetics off when we come to Church or Community. Tables then discussed what is necessary to come as we are.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Constantine Table Talk


Today's table talk discussion focuses on the Emperor Constantine, and asks the question, "Was Constantine's edict of Milan, positive or negative for Christianity?"


Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Because this is an "Ojai" Community blog, quick question:
Does anyone have any idea what happened at last night's firework show? We were watching from our roof, and it looked like after the finale, and the stadium lights went on, fireworks continued to be launched from Nordhoff. What happened?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Justified Means?

Second missing US soldier found in Afghanistan; civilians killed
4 July 2005 (From Khaleej Times Online >> News >> SUBCONTINENT)

KABUL - A second American soldier missing in Afghanistan for the past week has been located, a provincial governor said on Monday, adding that 17 civilians died in a US air raid last week during a search for the missing troops.

After declining to comment over the weekend about reports of civilian deaths in Friday’s air strike in Kunar province, the US military said on Monday it had killed an “unknown” number of militants and civilians and regretted the loss of innocent life.

Yesterday's table talk topic focused on stories like the one above, and asked the question of whether or not any civilian deaths, especially if those deaths are expected before the attacks, are justifiable.
I'm curious as to what some of the answers were that were given. Personally, I am struggling if my answer as a struggling Christ follower, should be different from that of political and military leaders whose goals include saving the lives of the those in their armies, and not glorifying God. And if the people in those positions are also followers of Jesus Christ, is it possible for them to make decisions that include the deaths of families innocently sitting at their kitchen tables eating dinner, and still glorify God?

The focus of the parable of the weeds and the wheat is not to answer the morality of
civilian deaths in war, rather it allows us to see God's mercy and love in not desiring for any of His children to perish allong with the sons of the world, however God has still called us to be his reflectors to the world, and although I adore my freedom and security, I question means which include the deaths of children having nothing to do with military actions.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Confirming words re: social justice

I recently read this on Brian McLaren's blogsite and wanted to pass it on:

I'm thrilled to see concerns for justice and peace rise in importance in the emergent community. The idea of missionality that has become so important to us means that God cares for our world; God is not just interested in helping some of us escape it to a pleasant hereafter so all our troubles are "left behind." Our call is to join the "missio dei" in doing justice and loving kindness as we walk humbly with God. So, I don't have a lot of interest in religious movements that do not produce positive social change – and I'm thrilled to see this concern grow in emergent. In our highly partisan political context, the church has too often become captive to the polarization and paralysis of left and right. We're committed to seeking a third way beyond this polarization.

For example, quite a few emergent folk have joined us in Washington, DC, for Worship in the Spirit of Justice (info at Hundreds of us are coming together for five Sundays of public outdoor worship on behalf of people suffering genocide in Darfur, Sudan. We are experiencing something important in ourselves as we seek to draw attention to the world's greatest humanitarian emergency: when we worship a God who cares for the oppressed, the poor, and the forgotten, we become more like the God we worship. (Sadly – the converse is also true: when we worship a God who is eager to get this world over with so a nice, quiet eternal rest can be enjoyed - we are also transformed into that image.)
(From "Reflections on Emergent Summit")

Monday, June 27, 2005

Comment from Bill O'Brien

A few thots from yesterday's community-

Parables - perhaps the best evangelistic tool in 2000 years
Real live Christ-ones - the best evangelistic tool in 2000 years.

I like the idea of pursuing some outreach locally as a community - maybe praying for and seeing what else we can do for the Riverhaven people, the low income folks in Meiners Oaks, or helping the Bikers for Christ, or ???
Bill O'Brien

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Produce vs. Product

In light of our conversation regarding whether or not the film The Passion was the best evangelical opportunity in the last 2000 years, I wanted to share a question that I read elsewhere:

What is the difference in Produce and Product? Which does Jesus call us to?

Seeds within Fruit

I was thinking today about how fruit produces fruit. Not to over analyze the parable of the sower, but I do find it interesting that after Christ throws the seed into a field, the seeds that find good soil, grows deep roots and produces healthy fruit, will in turn produce seeds which should multiply a crop.

Food for thought (no pun intended)

Soil Samples

Looking at Jesus' parable of the sower, today we examined the type of soil that is fertile, and compared fertile soil to hearts willing to accept Jesus' Kingdom and 'Good News'. We also had a great conversation exploring different possibilities of what the "seed" is today that we are spread. Is it a propositional statement? Is it love? Is it holy lives? Four Spiritual Laws? A combination of some of those?

I also shared with Community a commercial from a group called ONE, which states in their mission statement:
WE RECOGNIZE that a pact including such measures as fair trade, debt relief, fighting corruption and directing additional resources for basic needs – education, health, clean water, food, and care for orphans – would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the poorest countries, at a cost equal to just one percent more of the US budget. WE COMMIT ourselves - one person, one voice, one vote at a time - to make a better, safer world for all.” (
And I shared the convictions that I had as a result of watching the ad, as I felt that we as Jesus' followers should be equally concerned as actors, if not more so, to spread justice for others, and to desire God's kingdom and rule for others, here and now.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Lake Casitas

Wow! Yesterday's service far exceeded mine, or anyone's I think, expectations. Community was founded with the interest of "going out." We didn't want Community to just become like another organization that was confined to meeting inside the same bulding, never venturing out into the "World" that we are encouraged, (no wait that was a command) to go out into. When I was asked a month ago to go out and minister to the River Haven people of Ventura I recognized that this was potentianly an oppotunity to reach out, but was still skeptical.
How huge is God though. After exploring Jesus' Mission Discourse, Community had the opportunity to go out to Lake Casitas and love others. I had no idea how the service at the Lake was going to go, I had never met the people who were part of "River Haven," had no foreknowledge of where we were going to meet and set up our chairs, and wasn't really sure who from Community would be able to make it. But as we prayerfully and obediently went out to the Lake to hold yesterday's Community service, all of the pieces were put into place by God for an amazing afternoon.

After singing (something that I was told our visitors really enjoyed), and after sharing from the Word of God and from Biker's for Christ and Kay from River Haven, a woman named Bonnie approached me with a song that she had written when she was 14 that she wanted to share with me.

"I know not where the road leads on,
but when he comes he will show,
he will take my hand,
and lead me on his way,
I'll go when he does come,
I'll go when he does come,
for I know when he does come I will go."

After I talked with Bonnie, another woman, Debbie came up to me and told me that she needed to speak with me. She explained that she had rededicated her life to Christ in the 70's while she was part of a church "kinda like yours." She explained that this church had disbanded before she had a chance to be baptized, and that she had always wanted to be baptized. After asking her some questions about who she believed Jesus was, and what He had done for her, I asked her if she wanted to be baptized today in the Lake. I then asked her if she wanted to go back to her camp and change, or if she was ready to be baptized right now. She told me that she was ready to go, and we headed down to the lake willing to receive our $1000 fine if ticketed.
After Debbie was baptized and we began to climb back up the hill to our cars, Kay (the River Haven clan leader) told me that there was someone else who wanted to be baptized if I was willing, her husband. I met with her husband and after talking with him, he too headed down to be baptized among the reeds in the lake, (It is truly amazing the similarities between the lake, the Sea of Galilee, and the Jordan River).

While we were walking to the lake, another woman who I had met earlier during the service also said that she would like to be baptized, informing me that she had given her life to the Lord when she was young, but that her mother wanted her to wait until she was older to be baptized.

One of the greatest things about our service at the lake was that we simply followed God. We didn't orchestrate the experience, in fact I had no idea what to expect. We prepared a set of music, and a message to deliever, and prayed for God to work in us, and then we got to observe God at work as we prayed, sang, read, taught, listened to people's stories, and baptized our fellow brothers and sisters in Chirst.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Well, we had our first gathering yesterday, and besides the audio being really quiet (ran out of batteries for one of the mics) it went really well.
If you missed it, we learned how to overcome competition with humility. Next week we will see how to overcome independence. If you aren't sure that independence is a bad thing, be sure to come by and voice your opinion.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Espresso Machine

Just found out that the espresso machine that I bought had been seriously neglected in its past life, but will be resurrected to it's original glorious self. We in fact should have it operating by next week's COMMUNITY gathering.
I can't help but make the inevitable comparison that you know is coming:
The espresso machine was in bad shape due to neglect. The boiler tank had corrosion on the outside (a symptom and sign of what was happening on the inside) caused by impure water, seals hadn't been replaced, electric modules had been "mickey moused" together with a wedge of sandpaper, and the internal pump's normal whirring sound had been reduced to a lowly hum.
On the outside however, it looked like the $5,000 piece of machinery that it once was.
The repair man took a look at the inside and commented that he wouldn't have even taken the boiler out of the trash can because of the damage done, but stated that in his skillfull hands he could make the machine like new. He didn't say that he would take care of the cosmetic problems only, and make the machine simply "look" like new, but said that he can make the machine that I bought for a fraction of the price of a new unit, function like new, and would even give me a year warranty.

Thinking about our skilled creator and physician who has promised to make all things new, I think about how often we ask God to take away things in our lives that only the symptoms of a larger problem. Think about the disservice I would have done if I would have asked Giovanni, the repair man, to only scrape away the scales and make the machine appear clean, we still would not have a machine that could do what it was made to do, (make espresso). And yet, so often we ask God to correct symptoms of a fallen world and fallen people, without asking or desiring for Him to truly make all things new.

May we all desire to be renewed from the inside out so that we can effectively do what we were created to do... Glorify God!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A New Kind of Christian


I am challenged by the writings by Brian McLaren in, A New Kind of Christian.
In response to a question, one of the main characters, Neo, says," I'd say that 30 to 40 percent of your generation is modern, with the majoirty being postmodern. That's why it's so important--if you're going to have any impact at all on your generation for Christ-- for you to deal with these issues [of postmodernity], as lonely a road as it can be in the church at times. If you were a missionary going to Spain, you'd have to learn to think and speak Spanish. If you are a missionary going to any educated culture on earth today, I think you need to learn to think and speak postmodern."

The apostle Paul set out to be all things to all people ... in the world, but not of it. I am challenged to do the same today.

A. Smith

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Newly repainted Youth Center Posted by Hello


I'm starting to get excited about this weekend. To think that Sunday morning will be able to include spending time with friends, sitting around a table talking about spiritual things and about Jesus. I am super excited to spend Sunday dialoguing instead of monologuing, and participating in worship rather than watching it.


Our first gathering of COMMUNItY will be this Sunday (the 13th). Not sure if the espresso machine will be up and running or not yet, but blended mochas should be.

Amazing Music

Went to a conference last week for churches trying to break out of the "church box" and experienced some incredible worship take place.

Be sure to check out April Stace for some amazing harp/bass/d'jembre music. I bought the CD, and listened to it on the way home from San Diego. It's amazing how listening to harp music while driving in traffic on the 5 will turn normal merging traffic into an auto-ballet.

Also check out Tribela. It is a church in LA that makes extensive use of tribal drums (mostly d'jembres) to worship God. It was like walking through Libby park and seeing 30 people playing drums, only they were playing them for God as worship.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Post Modern Intro

Last night at OVCC's high school ministry, I took a detour from teaching on the Bible to give the students an introduction to "Community." We explored where the word "emerging" comes from, and got some exposure to the word "post modern". It was great watching students think hard about how to explain ideas like Jesus & respect to a culture of people without absolutes.

Community Postcard