living the way

Jesus’ message is nothing if not practical. He never leaves his teaching circling a theological airport or lost in abstraction. His message is always targeted on how we live and choose in this very moment. These audio messages intend to help us live our spirituality where rubber and road meet.

Breathless Brides

Dave Brisbin | 2.12.17
Why try to understand Jesus’ message from a first century, Hebrew point of view? What will that change? There’s a question I get a lot. The answer is: mostly everything. Whatever we say about Christianity being a relationship rather than a religion, the truth is that Western Christianity has become heavily focused on an intellectual understanding of theology and a rational/literal understanding of scripture, a legal view of our relationship to God, a dualistic view of life—especially the separation of the spiritual and physical, and an emphasis on the afterlife as opposed to life herenow that sharply defines our view of and attitude toward life and spiritual practice. 

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From a Hebrew point of view, the intellectual gives way to the experiential, the literal to the metaphorical, the legal to the relational, dualistic to holistic oneness, and therethen to herenow, which changes everything about our view of life and practice of faith. One of the primary metaphors Jesus and the Jewish authors of scripture use to describe this way of seeing and living life is the ancient Hebrew wedding tradition, in which a bride waits up to two years between the kiddushin/betrothal and nissu’in/wedding for her groom to come unannounced to claim her. Knowing the details and significance of the wedding tradition, how it shaped everyday Jewish life, how a young bride lived between betrothal and wedding, between the life she’d only and always known and the radical change of a new one to come, between heaven and earth—the present embrace of a too-short experience of love and life mixed with the excitement and anticipation of sudden newness at any moment—points us toward the rich experience of living kingdom as breathless brides.

From Here To There

Dave Brisbin | 2.5.17
Growing up, my church taught me to believe that a savior was coming—someone out there who would change me, save me from myself and my sin. I just had to believe and obey and wait. And that belief ordered the understanding of my faith, dictated day to day choices and attitudes. But reading through Hebrew eyes, Jesus is teaching something quite different…that no one is coming to save us. No one is coming because everyone and everything we’d ever need has always been and is already here. He says the waiting is over, the kingdom is here; he says we won’t find it by looking out there somewhere–it’s within and among. He really couldn’t be any clearer that the salvation, the transforming change we seek is already right here in our midst. 

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One of the problems with what Christianity has become in the West—primarily an intellectual understanding, a theology and a moral code, belief and obedience—is that there is little talk of the process of change. Fundamental change is what Jesus’ message is all about, but if change is seen as an event coming from outside in, we miss the essential participatory process moving the other way: from inside out. When Jesus tells us to repent and believe in the Gospel, that really translates to change direction and trust in the truth of the Father’s love. If our faith remains an intellectual understanding, we will miss the journey, the process of transformative change as we wait to be changed. But…if everything and everyone we need is already here, how to we get from here to there? Repent and believe, change and trust points us to the only tools we have to get from here to there, to kingdom living: awareness and choice. We don’t choose just once to follow Jesus. We choose every moment of our lives, again and again to be present to the Presence that precedes us. The spiritual life is really about developing awareness of Presence in each moment. And with awareness in hand, spiritual discipline is about then choosing where Presence leads: from here to there.

God in a Box

Frank Billman | 7.17.16
We have become so familiar with what we belief about God that we believe we know and understand him—who he is, what he does, how he works…that he is “he” at all. But the moment we define God, create edges that allow us to handle and carry him around, we have changed everything. God won’t fit into any definition or category or theology. God won’t fit into human thought at all, and the more we think on God the less we are open to his presence in our lives. How can we know God as God really is?

The Way of Gratefulness

Dave Brisbin | 7.03.16
What is the effect of the mindfulness, the presence and awareness of the contemplative way? Living on the edge of inside, neither fully inside or outside, at the threshold, able to see what is really now and not just what we already think we believe, gives us a way of living life that simply can’t be experienced except with gratitude. Gratitude is the reaction, the state of living in the awareness of a gift given to us that we could never give ourselves. It is the sense of awareness in us that creates both a humility and sense of dependency, but also the sense of being cared for that leads to trust. 

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Deeper than a mere feeling, gratefulness is the effect of beginning to know a truth about ourselves and God and the relationship between us. It is the sensation of the freedom that comes from knowing this truth. Jesus is insistent on knowing this truth that sets us free, and to bring this truth home, teaches us two basic principles, that if internalized and lived out, will bring us out along the way of gratefulness.

The Edge of Inside

Dave Brisbin | 6.26.16
In our society, and especially in the midst of a presidential election cycle, it is easy to become completely polarized—to “drink the kool-aid” and go all in with one group or another, one party or another, one religion or another. To become completely imprinted with the tenets, the groupthink of our choosing. From this perch, it is easy to imagine that we have the corner on truth, all the truth, and all others do not, that we are good and others are bad, are less than, need to be persuaded or controlled for their own good, and ours. It is a perch from which personal growth stops as we hunker down to convert the world to what we already know. In this mindset, there is no dialog or conversation, there is no relationship or love that is not conditioned on first meeting our standard of belief. 

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But Jesus and the great contemplatives of the world show us another way: a way to live on the edge of inside, on the threshold between groups and belief systems that keeps us open and aware, watching the comings and goings, alert to truth wherever it presents. This is sometimes called liminal space, but Jesus simply calls it Kingdom, the place where like children we are open to the moment as it presents and not always imagining it as we believe it should be.

only a mother could love

Dave Brisbin | 5.8.16
On Mother’s Day, we look at the role of mothers and fathers in ancient Hebrew society as illustrated in the language itself. Father in Hebrew means “strong house” and mother means “strong water,” that when understood in context means the “glue that holds the family together.” Strong house and strong water speak to the necessity of both doing and being, of accomplishment and relationship that undergird human life as a whole. We won’t find meaning and purpose without both father and mother in our lives, and we won’t find God either. 

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God is neither masculine nor feminine and is both at the same time. Hebrews understood that their God carried the qualities of strong house and water in perfect balance, and that though God as king was indeed the strength of the house, we always experience him first as mother—the compassion, mercy, and wisdom of the glue that holds everything together. That Jesus always led every encounter, every relationship with compassion and mercy shows us the Way of God, loving first no matter how unlovely we may be—loving as only a mother could love.
 

about participation

dave brisbin | 4.17.16
We continue the thread started in the last message, which summed up the approach of theeffect ministry as working to help each individual find acceptance, get involved, build trust, and live theeffect of God’s love. Now what was that second point, again? Getting involved is really all about participation. Participation in what? Faith? Well, a much better way to put it is that participation is faith and faith is participation. 

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Biblical faith is always action, not thought, but biblical faith is also not obedience. Obedience is not faith because it is based in fear of punishment, and the moment obedience is no longer based in fear of punishment, but love of the one to whom you’re submitted, then obedience is no longer obedience, but the action of trust. How do we get there? By diving into relationship headlong. But then relationship is only as good as our participation in it, so it’s really all about participation.

who, what, why

dave brisbin | 4.10.16
As we near our ninth anniversary as a ministry, seemed time to step back redefine what theeffect was founded to be and what we work to do each day in the minds and hearts of those with whom we connect. Our approach can be summed up as a working to help each individual find acceptance, get involved, build trust, and live theeffect of God’s love. 

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That love, the Good News, Kingdom, the quality of life lived steeped in the awareness of and participation in the Father’s presence is theeffect we seek and without which there is no purpose to a spiritual life.

least of these

dave brisbin | 3.20.16
On Palm Sunday, we look again at our expectations and biases and try to pry loose all we think we know of Jesus: from what he looks like to what we believe of his mission and teachings to test whether we, like those greeting Jesus along the streets of Jerusalem would miss the moment of our visitation. 

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What we think we know limits what we see and are willing to accept as truth. Jesus rides into our lives on the back of the foal of a donkey, bringing a message and truth that unless we have conditioned ourselves to see with the eyes of a child, we will miss completely.

heartbeat of life

frank billman | 3.13.16
Our recovery pastor, Frank, takes the mic to work through the essentials of a spiritual walk, pulling from Matthew, John, II Corinthians, and even his own dreams to show us the shape of the journey from descent to ascent—the heartbeat of life.

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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.

Since we’re all recovering, we accept everyone right as they are—no expiration dates or deadlines. We don’t tell anyone what to believe or do. We present points of view that we hope will engage seekers in their own journey; help them unlearn limiting perceptions, beliefs, and compulsions; give opportunities to get involved in community, building the trust we all need to find real identity, meaning, and purpose. In other words, to engage the transforming Way of living life that Jesus called Kingdom…non-religiously understood from a first century Hebrew point of view.

 

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Embedded in the fun and laughter of each of our gatherings and events is the connection and accountability as well as the structure, discipline, and opportunity for service that authentic community is all about. We help create programs for physical support, emotional recovery, and spiritual formation that can meet any person’s needs. Such programs work at two levels: first to address a person’s physical and emotional stability—clinical, financial, relational,professional—anything that distracts from working on the second level: true spiritual formation centered around the contemplative way of life defined by an original Hebrew understanding of the message of Jesus.

Rather than telling people what to believe or think, we model and encourage engagement in a personal and communal spiritual journey that allows people to experience their own worthiness of connection and acceptance, to find the freedom from underlying fears that brings real meaning and purpose into focus.

 

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Seeing ourselves as a learning and recovery community that worships together, the focus isn’t on Sunday morning alone, but on every day of the week as we gather for worship, healing and support workshops, studies, 12 step meetings, counseling and mentoring sessions, referral services, and social events. We maintain a food pantry for those needing more support, a recovery worship gathering, and child care for those with little ones.

Our Sunday gathering starts at 10AM and our Recovery gathering on Tuesdays at 7PM. Both gatherings include worship with one of the best worship bands in the area. See our monthly calendar and our Facebook page to stay in touch with what is happening each week. You can also sign up on our elist for email enews updates.

 

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