If everyone is recovering from something–from some hurt, trauma, compulsive behavior, or dysfunctional thinking that is causing us to make destructive choices that compromise our relationships and ability to enjoy our moments or even to function in life–then the twelve steps of alcoholics anonymous may have something to say to each one of us. In this tour of the twelve steps, each step is considered not from the viewpoint of alcohol and substance abuse recovery, but from its most open and spiritual application–one that applies to each of us.
We’ve done the step series twice now–one in 2009 and now in 2014. The versions are similar, but the 2014 version takes advantage of another 5 years of experience working in the field. Talk a look…
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?
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 | 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.
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.