message archive

Audio recordings of messages from Sunday and some Tuesday Recovery Gatherings are archived here for downloading or streaming. You can browse current year messages below from most recent to oldest, or select a category for specific years or one of our “boxed sets,” message series on specific topics.




Leaving Home

Dave Brisbin | 8.27.17
In saying that Jesus’ hidden years show us a life of willingness to let go of anything that is not truth, to descend first, with no guarantee of ascension, just a promise…what does that look like? What does it mean in real life? Our lives? Piecing together the clues in the few stories we have in the Gospels, it looks like leaving home. Leaving everything that is familiar, comfortable and comforting, what has always been and seems secure and certain, stepping out into the unknown without a safety net, away from those on which you’ve always depended. We see Jesus leaving home four times in the Gospels—short bloodless, matter of fact descriptions with little or none of the raw human emotion and drama of such leavings, both for Jesus and his loved ones.

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From age twelve to thirty plus, he leaves the warmth and comfort of home to pursue his unswerving desire for truth. If we read between the lines and layer our own experiences of leaving home for college or summer camp, for the military, or job, spouse, prison, divorce—whether anticipating better or worse, it’s wrenching to leave what we know and love, and just as hard for those who love us. Are we willing to leave home? Sometimes literally, but always emotionally, intellectually, spiritually? Willing to leave what we think we know sustains us for something deeper, truer? If not, then we are not following the Way of Jesus.

The Hidden Years

Dave Brisbin | 8.20.17
Francis of Assisi is credited with saying that we should preach the Gospel continuously and use words where necessary. Taking his cue from Jesus, Francis understood that the Gospel was first a way of living life and only secondarily and of necessity a concept put into words. That words were only as good as the experience that gave them life. Jesus himself and his life itself is the message, the Way, but in our hyper-intellectualism, we miss all that, and in our focus on Jesus as God, we miss his life as a human, as a man—as scripture tells us: fully human, like us in all things, prone to all our weaknesses, learning and growing as we do, yet with an unquenchable desire to know truth, which brought him fully one with the Father, or as scripture puts it, “without sin.” What does that “gospel” look like, what does the shape of Jesus’ life tell us about the shape of ours? 

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Is all this really supported by our scripture? We know very little about Jesus’ life outside of his public ministry, but it’s by stringing together the clues of his first 30 hidden years, with some reading between the lines that we see what it really looks like to follow Jesus, to live a life that is always willing to let go of anything that is not truth, to descend before you ascend, to feel your way to the Father when there are no words to express the process. We focus on the teachings and healings of Jesus during his public ministry, but it’s only in understanding his hidden years, his life journey to his ministry that we can understand what his words really mean.

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.

Process to Person

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. 

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And even though Jesus was understood as identical with the Way, still their distinction pointed directly to the fact that we as followers actually do need to follow a Way, a process of becoming more and more identified with both Jesus and Way. So now as modern Westerners, we need to follow a process of unlearning that will take us from the person of Jesus we think we know to the process of Jesus that his first followers knew, that will then take us to the person of truth that will make us free.

A Functional Heretic

Dave Brisbin | 7.30.17
How could an abundance of emphasis on the absolute love of God be a problem? What could go wrong? It is one of the ironies of my life and chosen profession that my absolute focus on the absolute nature of God’s love has placed me at odds with many of my Christian contemporaries, and though this over simplifies the nature of any controversy, it at least accurately expresses my intentions and the method in my “heresy.” At a recent gathering, in the midst of an energetic discussion, one man called me a “functional heretic,” a term I just loved and enthusiastically accepted. I knew what he meant: that I was someone pushing the envelope just short of too far to remain functioning within Christendom, remaining true to Jesus and his message even if expressed in radically different ways. But the reason I loved and accepted the term is because I believe it absolutely applies to Jesus as well. 

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Jesus never stopped being perfectly functional within Judaism, but in his attempt to cut through accepted doctrine and beliefs that had come to burden and separate the people from their God, he pushed the envelope as far as he could—eventually too far for the authorities to permit. And if we’re ever to understand and experience the freedom of Kingdom that Jesus was teaching and living, we’ll need to become functional heretics too, unafraid of the opinions of others and the disturbance of pushing the envelope just short of too far…

Such as These

Dave Brisbin | 7.23.17
If God is a playful God—as mirrored by Jesus who loved to play with children, tell colorful and funny stories, eat and drink with his friends—how are we to react and respond? How does this notion that God doesn’t live life as a duty to perform but a playground to be experienced change the shape of our journeys? Why is playfulness so important? Think on it: to be in a playful mood and mode is to be tender and open…to be vulnerable. It’s a place of the surrender of control, a suspension of disbelief and reason and defense. It’s far too frightening a place for many of us to go, who don’t feel safe enough to be playful. 

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The arch enemy of playfulness is control, and control is always the foot soldier of fear. We can’t be playful, childlike until we know that we are loved. This is the essence of the Good News: that we are loved enough that being playful is not only possible, but the only possible response…which is why the emblem of Kingdom, the living out of God’s playful love, the proof of that love is always “such as these,” those who, like children, are free to live and love playfully.

A Playful God

Dave Brisbin | 7.16.17
On the 15th anniversary of my ordination, I took a look back at the subject of my first sermon on ordination day all those years ago: The Gospel According to Lou. A beloved friend who died from complications arising from diabetes two weeks before my ordination, Lou’s last words to me and my wife fueled a fundamental change in me and my first sermon that I thought I already had in the bag… “Love each other, just love each other…and kid around a little.” Twelve words. But it was the kidding around part that characterized Lou, who’s playful smile always made me feel I was the only person in a crowded room. It was his playfulness that made all of us aware that Lou actually enjoyed the love he expressed for everyone in his path. 

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And it was his playfulness that finally broke through a theological view of God by showing me the playfulness of Jesus hiding in plain sight in the words of the New Testament. To see Jesus as a laughing, smiling, energetic man playfully living his relationships began redefining my understanding of God’s relationship with me and mine with everyone in my path. I wanted to become someone like Jesus, like Lou, who loved being in love and could state the Gospel with authority in only twelve words.

Be Ye Healed

Dave Brisbin | 7.9.17
What about faith healing? What is it? How does it work? Does it work? Is it biblical? Questions such as these are always present. They are born out of a deep human need for healing and wholeness—and out of the pain, trauma, and fear life presents. People in pain can be most easily manipulated so we need to be wary, yet Jesus healed many of the people around him…aren’t those gifts still in operation? How do we know how to proceed? 

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Although Jesus tells us he came to bring good news to those who have been marginalized, freedom to those who are captive and oppressed, and healing to those in need, he also shows us that kingdom—his word for abundant, healed, liberated life—is a process of becoming that he calls the Way. Is healing an event or a process or both and how do we balance our desire to change our circumstances with learning to be content in all our circumstances? Let’s talk about healing and faith and see if we can find the Way through together.

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.

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!)

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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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