Saturday, October 28, 2006

Just as I am

I was thinking about how some of us are pretty good at recognizing that God accepts us just as we are. We apologize to God for falling short at times, and take his patience for granted as we work to become the disciples that he calls us to, (even though if at times we seem to take one step forward and two steps back). But we sometimes have a hard time extending this mindset to others around us.

Maybe we could amend the popular hymn Just As I Am, with a stanza entitled Just As You Are.

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as You are, I accept you,
That God, the same does for you too,
And when though bidst me come to thee,
I hope with God, I'll come, I'll come.

Super cheesy, I know, but I think about the 100s of thousands of people who came forward to this hymn during altar calls all around America, and can't help but hope that if they had heard the plea to love others as Jesus loved us, accepting them as they are, that maybe our churches would look different.

Just a thought...and a redundant one at that.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New Blogsite

It's funny, I made this blog site as an appendage to our gatherings on Sunday mornings, but most of our traffic (we've had over 2000 hits) comes from outside of Ojai. I know that Michaela checks it regularly, as does Amber, but aside from the two of them, our regular comments either come from Ireland (hmmm I wonder who that could be), or from friends of mine from our congregation in Cerritos (Hi Angel).
Regardless, it is fun for me to do, and it is nice to be able to go back and see what all we've talked about over the past year and a half.
Today, we do have a new blogger amongst our community. Amber decided that she would like to start her own blog site so visit her here.
If anyone else from our Community wants to start a blog, (Michaela?) let me know so we can promote it.

Podcasting Paul

So, you really like CommuniTy but also like to hear Paul's Sunday sermons, and you're not sure what to do?
You could go to Saturday night service, OR you could subscribe to OVCC's podcasts. You can either fire up iTunes, be kept current and take your sermons with you on the go...or you can stream the services straight to your computer and out your crappy desktop speakers, unless you're David Gonzales, I bet he has some sick speakers hooked up in his "office."

Fun Flickr Feature

I just saw this on someone else's blog site and thought that I would try it out.

Last April, Darren and I woke up Sage at 5:30am to go watch the sunrise over the topatopas. Darren filmed it and we used the footage to make our own worship backgrounds.

Here's some of the stills that we took:

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I began reading Tolstoy today. I've heard his name mentioned so often, but have never read him. I'm not sure how I escaped War and Peace in high school, but it must have been replaced with Joyce's, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, in our AP curriculum.
In the opening to What I Believe, the prequel to The Kingdom of God is in You, Tolstoy describes his discovery in Christ:

I now no longer care for the things that I had prized, and I have begun to desire things concerning which I had formerly been indifferent. Like a man who, going out on business, on his way suddenly becomes convinced of the futility of that business and turns back; and all that stood to the right now stands to the left, and all that was to the left is now to the right; his wish to be as far from home as possible is changed to the desire of being as near home as possible so, I may say, the whole aim and purpose of my life has been changed; my desires are no more what they have been. For me, good and evil have changed places. This experience came through my apprehending the doctrine of Christ in an altogether different way, and seeing it in quite a new light.

I wonder how many people describe their discovery of Christ in this way. All too often I hear a "hole in your heart" message, where a preacher describes how Jesus will complete your life, make your "good" life even better, Kind of like Renée Zellweger did for Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. We seldom hear the message, "Come, follow Jesus. Forget everything that you know, get uncomfortable, get confused, stand on your head, loose yourself."

Lately, as I reimagine Christianity, I find myself like Tolstoy feeling like my left is my right. I struggle to recover from the whiplash pains caused by recognizing Jesus' mission and words, and running to catch up with Christ in my attempt to follow him.

May our aims, purposes and desires be shifted to resemble those of Jesus'.