2008 Archives

With ten years of messages to archive, we’re still working on it. Our latest messages appear on this page, but if you want to look at earlier years, click the construction banner below to go to our full archive, then scroll down to the year you’d like to browse.

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Looking for Love

Frank Billman | 6.25.17
Lessons from the Ortega Highway: In my early years in the faith I felt a bit of disdain for the “love gospel” that seemed to be infiltrating the faith community–particularly in California. That just seemed too easy and didn’t demand enough of the followers of Jesus. Today we will take a look at scripture and see if that is what Jesus was actually teaching and, if so, how does it present itself in real life. (As in the daily commute on the mountain road Ortega Highway!)

From Ab to Abba

Dave Brisbin | 6.18.17
On Fathers’ Day—Is our Father in heaven male? We call him Father after all…and “him.” Intellectually, most of us know God is spirit and neither male nor female, but emotionally, subconsciously, the feelings, the consequence of maleness surrounds our Western notion of God. To have been immersed in a male conception of God keeps him at a distance—the king, judge, executioner, administrator, creator/builder, lawgiver and standard bearer. We talk of the female attributes of our God: compassion, mercy, intimacy, love—but we really order our lives of faith and religion around the king, not the queen, Father, not Mother. Jesus had an ingenious way of dealing with this dilemma: while his people called God their Ab, Hebrew for father, he called his Father, Abba, the familiar, intimate name that Hebrew children use for their daddies to this day. 

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Without contesting the tradition of his people, Jesus brought into the relationship the sense of intimacy and compassion missing from a culturally male conception of God. There is a journey implied here, a journey Jesus took as preserved in the New Testament, a journey from Ab to Abba from father to mother, king to confidant, that we must all take if we really want to go where Jesus went.

Falling Opinions

Dave Brisbin | 6.11.17
One of the hardest aspects of working in a church setting is watching people come and go—people you like, those you thought of as friends move on and leave you often feeling hurt or abandoned. Natural to feel that way—hard to make the emotional distinction between friendship and ministry. But what is really hurting us? Really, it’s our expectation, our opinion of how things should be. Any community is in constant motion—never static. Any community as we view it is just a momentary snapshot in time that will be morphing into something else in the next moment.

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To be able to live richly in any community or family or workplace is to expect what is real and not what we wish to be so. As Sengtzu famously said: If you wish to see the truth, hold no opinions for or against. It’s the same message Jesus is giving us when he tells us not to judge. Judging is another way of trying to impose our opinions. If we’re ever to enter the quality of life that is Kingdom, it will only be when we let fall our opinions and let our moments be what they really are
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10th Anniversary Celebration

theeffect | 6.4.17
As theeffect hit its 10th anniversary as a ministry on May 20, 2017, we take a pause as a community to let our staff and founders each take a few minutes to talk about theeffect and its effect on our lives and the lives of those we serve. How did we begin, who began us, what was it like in the early days and years, how did we grow, and how did each of us come to connect with this community and this message of Jesus’ Way and Father’s love? It was a morning of memories, revelations, tears, and laughter.

Shrewd as Snakes

Dave Brisbin | 5.28.17
The theme of balance in kingdom life continues as we consider a very strange saying of Jesus: to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. In sending his followers out to teach and heal, what is he trying to tell them and by extension, us? To balance “shrewd,” as intelligent, thoughtful, discreet, practical, and cautious with “innocence,” characterized as simple, sincere, straightforward, without deceit is a difficult mix that seems to be in basic contradiction at first glance. But as with all of Jesus’ instructions, it’s not only possible, but necessary, of course. 

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And this balance must extend to the fundamental ways we look at life and faith, religion, and even scripture itself. When we apply Jesus’ balance to a view of the teachings of Paul and Jesus, what does it reveal? How does it change the way we look at the message being delivered? And how does it change how we apply those teachings to the everyday issues we face here and now? To balance a simple and straightforward approach to faith with the intelligence, practicality, and discretion of the snake can make all the difference, and give us permission to view the fundamentals of our faith in different ways.

A Palace in Time

Dave Brisbin | 5.21.17
Reading an article by a pastor who now consults and coaches other pastors on growing church attendance, building programs, and time management created a moment of dissonance that I needed to process. In coaching pastors on protecting their time, to focus their time on necessary growth, the author stated that a pastor can only have meaningful relationships with 120 people at a time, and in a church that group is always changing and needs to be managed to the point of actually changing phone numbers and cutting off access to those outside the current 120. Sounds harsh, contains truth, sounds antithetical to Jesus’ principles, but Jesus had inner circles as well. Hence the dissonance. How to balance?

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And what does it say of our view of time? The ancient view of time and timekeeping was so different than ours, it may be hard to make hard and fast comparisons then and now, but it again points to the necessary balance between mother and father, accomplishment and relationship that is key to kingdom living. Rabbi Abraham Heschel writes that we modern people are fixated on space, of filling formless time with things and accomplishments, but that God sees time as holy in itself, that the first thing God made holy was time—the Sabbath, a palace in time. To see time in a new way may help us to create a better, more holy balance between space and time in our own lives.

When Dad Acts Like Mom

Dave Brisbin | 5.14.17
Mothers’ Day: I was recently asked that though we know God loves us, how can we know he likes us? Great question, one that goes to the heart of our human experience. On Mothers’ Day, and by way of answering, it’s always good to be reminded of the ancient Hebraic understanding of the roles of mother and father that is coded right into their language. To understand father/Ab, as “strong house,” the support and structure of the family, and mother/Em as “strong water,” the glue that holds the family together, is fundamental to their life in family, tribe, and nation. But it also reveals their view of God as well. 

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Though God is always referred to in the masculine, Hebrews never understood their God as male, but with key divine concepts such as wisdom and kingdom referred to as feminine, they saw God as a balance between the justice and mercy, accomplishment and relationship that father and mother represent. We can know, understand that God loves us through reading, study, and ritual practice, but we will never know God likes us, enjoys our company, feels personal devotion to us until we experience him as loving mother. Jesus portrayed his Father in just such a way in the parable of the prodigal son—and until we have experienced enough moments when dad acts like mom, we will never know we’re liked as well as loved.

Fear’s Rules

Dave Brisbin | 5.7.17
The cross of Jesus is such a big and central message in Christianity that we need to spend more time on it. So continuing the discussion from the previous week’s message, “Lamb of God,” and in answer to the perennial questions—why is the bible so violent, and why would God sacrifice his son?—we’re looking at deeper ways of understanding Calvary that neither compromise the sacrifice of Jesus nor the love of the Father. In typical midrash fashion (see the message “Deeper Reading” for more on midrash), the New Testament writers portray Jesus on the cross using three deeply embedded images from the Old Testament: the Passover Lamb, the Lifted Up One, and the Scapegoat. To fully understand how Jesus’ first followers understood his sacrifice on the cross, we need to know how these three images functioned in the spiritual lives of the people and how they applied to the spiritual truth of Jesus’ sacrifice. 

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As we dig deeper, we find that all three point us toward a deep gaze at ourselves, at our intrinsic nature as humans that necessitate a laying down of blame, resistance, justification, and anything else we use to deflect our own pain and personal responsibility. When we really understand what Jesus became when he became the “sin of the world,” we can begin to understand the nature of a sacrifice that will really set us free and save us to love as the Father loves.

Lamb of God

Dave Brisbin | 4.30.17
No matter what questions we ask of religion or church, scripture or theology, the subtext, the question we’re always really asking is the same: with all life’s pain, uncertainty, absurdity…do I matter? Am I safe? Whether we’re asking about heaven, hell, salvation, law, or any esoteric point of theology, what we’re really looking for is assurance, confidence in our own acceptability. That’s the human condition. And so it also is as we ask about the cross, about what it really means, and how Jesus as Lamb of God, an innocent blood sacrifice, impacts the nature of a God who Jesus tells us is absolutely all loving. Is there a way to understand the Lamb and the sacrifice in such a way that God’s loving nature is not compromised? 

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The answer lies in the context of the cross. Just as the letters of Paul are always answers to questions that are left unstated, we can’t understand how his answers are true until we know the context within which they are true. The context of the cross, the unstated question, is salvation—but our beliefs about salvation affect the way we see the cross’ answer. Understanding what the ancients who wrote our scripture believed about salvation, understanding what the “sin of the world” is that the Lamb takes away, and how we come to the cross ourselves to journey with Jesus will point us in a new direction where love and sacrifice connect without compromising either.

Ask!

Tina Henningson/Dave Brisbin | 4.28.17
In a talk show interview format, effect board member Tina Henningson works through questions submitted by our membership on everything from the direction and basic beliefs of theeffect—are we Christ centered, Evangelical, emerging, recovery centered, contemplative—to salvation and judgment, Christianity vs. other faith traditions, nature of God’s love, nature of prayer, evil in the world, what is Judaism and why is that important to a follower of Jesus, faith and loss of faith, how to help those in deep grief, miracles, whether church and religion are really necessary… It’s not so much that there are definitive answers to all our questions, but the direction of our questions and consideration of each other’s answers are all part of the journey. So join us in our easy chairs for an evening of talking through the issues that are most on our minds.

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Everyone is recovering from something… Admitting this is the first step in spiritual life, because any unfinished business in our lives–trauma, unforgiveness, fear-based perceptions–fosters compulsive behavior and keeps us from connecting spiritually and emotionally.

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