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.

Singing to the Corn

Dave Brisbin | 11.12.17
It often helps to hear deep spiritual truths as expressed in faith traditions other than our own. We can become so familiar with our own traditional expressions that we don’t hear them anymore…they become enveloped in colloquial meaning and lose the ability to shock us into deeper awareness. And we do need to be shocked. Native Americans did not put their energy into buildings or infrastructure. They didn’t value the physical trappings of Western societies and lived nomadically within the systems nature provided. They saw life, meaning, and purpose from a vastly different perspective—one that Jesus was trying to convey as well. 

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When Crowfoot, the great Blackfoot chief says, “What is life? It is a flash of a firefly in the night. It is a breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is as the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset,” when Waheenee of the Hidatsa tribe writes, “Often in summer I rise at daybreak and steal out to the corn fields, and as I hoe the corn I sing to it, as we did when I was young,” they are speaking of the meaning of life encapsulated in the immersion in a singular act in a specific moment. All life and meaning coming to a single point of awareness. Jesus would call this Kingdom, and if we can’t learn to sing to the corn again, we won’t really know what he means.

Repentance Without Regret

Dave Brisbin | 10.29.17
A nationally-known pastor writes of a sea change earlier in his life when he realized that he was no longer on a path he recognized or thought would lead where he really wanted to go. He wrote that he believed that we have a far too narrow view of repentance, that it meant “to think,” and he had much to rethink and repent. But if we really look at the etymology of the word repentance through five different languages, ancient and modern, we find that repentance is vastly broader than simply feeling regret or rethinking. 

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French, Latin, and Greek all stand between us and the original Hebrew that forms a major theme in Jesus’ teaching. The first words Jesus speaks in Mark is, “The waiting is over. The kingdom is here. Repent and believe the good news.” But when we look at repentance fully, we find not just a word, a single meaning, but an active process, another threeness that takes us from the sorrow of a path not taken to the renewing of mind that overcomes the fear of choosing altogether new directions. And it’s right there that Paul picks up the story and tells us of the kind of wounded sorrow that moves us toward a repentance that moves without any regret at all.

The Art of Waiting

Dave Brisbin | 9.17.17
If you’re waiting for anything, you’re not herenow—you’re projected somewhere into an imagined future. And if you’re not herenow, then you’re not in Kingdom, not on Jesus’ Way. Life is like music and dance: you’re either making it or you’re not…if you’re waiting for it, you’re not making it. And yet, as long as we’re breathing here, time appears to us as a sequence of events, past, present, future, and we really do need to learn from the past and anticipate and prepare for the future. How do we do that and remain in Kingdom if life is made up of a combination of now and then, being/doing…and waiting? 

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There’s an art to waiting, a way to wait that keeps us grounded herenow and on Jesus’ Way, and the key to understanding how Jesus is telling us to wait lies in the ancient customs of the Jewish wedding traditions. To understand prophetic and apocalyptic scripture as well as the simple moments of your day begins with knowing how a young Jewish bride waited for her new life as wife and mother between her betrothal and wedding. And then to understand why both Israel and the church understood themselves as God’s bride living between heaven and earth, between life herenow and new life anticipated any moment is to begin to practice the art of waiting.

Kingdom of Presence

Dave Brisbin | 9.3.17
A pastor once told me that the pulpit is the last bastion of uninterrupted speech in America. That may be true, and monologues have their place and power, but from time to time we like to have “Conversations” on Sunday mornings, times when we can interact as a group—ask questions and make comments, tell personal stories—sometimes open ended and sometimes directed. Today, directed a bit, realizing that how for the past few weeks I’ve been focusing on the “via negativa,” the ancient, Christian tradition of descent, of letting go of whatever is false in our lives may have created an overly negative view of Jesus’ Way, it seemed to good time to talk about what willingness to let go actually brings into our lives. 

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Letting go of more and more of what is false is really a letting go of fear, and letting go of fear finally allows us to see what is real before us. And what is real is Presence. What does this presence feel like and how do we experience it in everyday life? We all throw in to discuss.

Always Today

Dave Brisbin | 8.13.17
The hardest thing for us to understand about Kingdom is its immediacy. The understanding of Jesus’ Kingdom as the heaven of afterlife is so deeply embedded in us, that intellectually understanding otherwise doesn’t really move the needle much. We can say we understand and yet for years still operate as if this Kingdom is still off waiting to happen in some undertermined future. It’s only by living the process of Jesus’ Way, day in and day out, that little by little the conviction builds that when it comes to Kingdom, its’ always today. 

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Kingdom is the state and quality of living a completely healed life, yet when we read of all the healings of Jesus, we focus on the literal, physical healings, allowing us to keep the full, spiritual healing of Kingdom still off wanting to happen. The blind seeing, deaf hearing, lame walking are also about the process of becoming open to new Ways of seeing and hearing and moving past the paralysis of fear that keeps us stalled on Jesus’ Way. The full healing of Kingdom is always right here, right now, always today.

Unalienable Rights

Dave Brisbin | 7.2.17
Fourth of July should be a time to reassess, take stock of the last 241 years, see where we are, where we came from. We live in an age of cynicism. Our culture doesn’t revere tradition or founding principles anymore, but does that mean there’s no truth, no relevance there to guide us herenow? When we carefully read a document like the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson is telling us that human rights derive directly from God–but not political contracts or laws. Laws only exist to serve the people, and when they don’t, it is the right of the people to abolish them…yet people will suffer oppression and evil as long as they possibly can before finally acting—partly out of fear and partly out of prudence. Revolutions should never be taken lightly, and what operates in nations and governments is reflected in our personal lives. 

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Jesus is calling us to a personal revolution, one that will question and upend all of the intellectual concepts and religious contracts to which we’ve signed, if they no longer serve the purpose of spiritual liberation. And we will resist such upheaval for as long as we can until the day we realize that our desire for those God-given “unalienable rights,” is finally greater than our fear of the disruption of our interior revolution.

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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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.

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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.

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