The contemplative way of spirituality is the way of stepping aside from anything and everything we think or feel that would distract us from what is present right here and now–the conscious awareness of God’s presence.
Dave Brisbin | 10.8.17
Ever notice how it seems to take longer to get somewhere you’ve never been than to get back again? Why is that? Watching every turn, wondering if you missed one, if there’ll be a street sign, how much longer…? I always like to look at a map of the whole route before letting the GPS lady lead me around by the nose. There is a certain amount of anxiety involved in going somewhere for the first time that is relieved once we have some idea of the overall shape of the journey. And what’s true for external journeys is certainly true for interior ones as well. We are always looking for signs and prophecies, plans and God’s will to help us see the way before we actually travel the way.
Dave Brisbin | 10.1.17
Meister Eckhart said that the spiritual life is much more about subtraction than addition, but what does that mean? Many spiritual teachers have spoken about the fact that life is divided into halves, but what is the distinction? Putting the two together, the first half of life is about building the physical platform for survival, happiness, meaning, purpose, identity—it’s about acquisition both physically and emotionally…about addition. The second half is about undoing all that, about the subtraction of layer after layer of manufactured identity and the illusion of certainty. It’s about coming full circle back to the garden where we play with Presence in the cool of the evening and become vulnerably secure in trust. But what does a second half of life journey cost and look like?
Dave Brisbin | 9.10.17
Anyone who’s played football had to learn the playbook and how to run the plays in the book, but the real play of football begins where the playbook ends. What do you do when the playbook has delivered you the ball, put it in your hands, and now it’s just you, a field full of linebackers, and a goal line? A great chef begins where the recipe ends and jazz players are defined by the music they make beyond the printed page. It’s a great irony that the church has traditionally told us that God will bless us if we just obey the rules, the law…especially considering that Jesus spent most of his precious time trying to tell us and show us that we can only begin to see the blessings God is constantly showering on our lives once we outrun the rules:
Dave Brisbin | 8.6.17
When Jesus says that he is the Way, truth, and life, if we’re to take him at his word, what he is saying is that he is both a person and a process. The implications of this statement are radical, but we typically don’t even consider them as the church has come to focus almost exclusively on Jesus as a person and has lost the promise of process: finding the person/truth that makes us free. But though the processness of Jesus may be lost on us, it wasn’t on his first followers who called themselves “talmidey urha,” Aramaic for Followers of the Way…not followers of Jesus.
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?
Dave Brisbin | 11.27.16
Coming off Thanksgiving and probably the loudest family gathering ever, I realized that the gratitude we all felt and hadn’t quite put into words, was being expressed through sheer volume: through the day long dance of family members moving in and out of conversations and laughter and food and games. It was a constant motion, a giving and receiving that blurred into one thing that I suppose we could describe as family or love or long-familiar relationship. When we look at God from a Christian point of view, we’ve been asked to see three persons in one God, but what does that mean, and why is it important? What does it offer each of us day in and out?
Dave Brisbin | 11.20.16
When a person gets up to accept and award or honor, whether a politician to a movie star, I’ve always wondered what exactly is meant when he or she inevitably says they are “humbled” to accept this award. That statement can be authentically heartfelt and can mean many things, but if we really break down what humility means, is it really humble? What is humility and why does Jesus hold it as such a primary value? In Jesus’ stories and parables, it is obvious to scholars that he is tapping into the ancient Jewish tradition of the “anawim…” those who are poor and lowly, meek and gentle, those who have been oppressed and marginalized to the point that they have nowhere left to turn except directly to God.
Dave Brisbin | 11.13.16
Nearing the end of a year of almost constant change, worn out, ready for some sort of plateau or break in the action, the realization reaffirms that there is no plateau. There is no time in life that change isn’t constantly in process. Sit for a few minutes and watch the shadows move across your living room—subtle reminder of just how fast things are really moving in our lives. Most of us don’t like change, but if we’re not changing and moving, we’re not part of the action of God’s spirit, which is always in motion, always bringing change.
Dave Brisbin | 11.6.16
Walking my daughter down the aisle on her wedding day was just about everything I could have hoped for in such a moment. She was absolute beautiful in her dress, her mother and I love her groom, the setting and preparations couldn’t have been better. But even in a perfect moment such as this, I was of course aware of fractures between families and family members that had remained either unresolved or unspoken for years, and yet as the evening unfolded, there were moments of reconnection and reconciliation that deepened the experience. I couldn’t help thinking of all the mistakes we’d all made over the past twenty five years, all the hurts and resentments, anger that somehow led to this perfect moment of reconnection.
Frank Billman | 10.30.16
The Bible contains many mysteries or seeming paradoxes as it seek to describe our relationship and walk with God. Unfortunately, many of us who have been in church for a while have learned the “answers” to these mysteries. How do we re-enter a state of awe and amazement if we feel we have the answers to all the questions? How do we embrace the statement by Brennan Manning who said, “I wouldn’t want a God I could comprehend?” How will we ever be able to accept God’s unconditional love and unmerited grace—which are the greatest mysteries of all—if we can’t find a way to rest in the unexplainable?