twelve steps

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…

page-under-construction

 

 

Shrewd as Snakes

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. 

Read More

And this balance must extend to the fundamental ways we look at life and faith, religion, and even scripture itself. When we apply Jesus’ balance to a view of the teachings of Paul and Jesus, what does it reveal? How does it change the way we look at the message being delivered? And how does it change how we apply those teachings to the everyday issues we face here and now? To balance a simple and straightforward approach to faith with the intelligence, practicality, and discretion of the snake can make all the difference, and give us permission to view the fundamentals of our faith in different ways.

A Palace in Time

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?

Read More

And what does it say of our view of time? The ancient view of time and timekeeping was so different than ours, it may be hard to make hard and fast comparisons then and now, but it again points to the necessary balance between mother and father, accomplishment and relationship that is key to kingdom living. Rabbi Abraham Heschel writes that we modern people are fixated on space, of filling formless time with things and accomplishments, but that God sees time as holy in itself, that the first thing God made holy was time—the Sabbath, a palace in time. To see time in a new way may help us to create a better, more holy balance between space and time in our own lives.

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. 

Read More

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. 

Read More

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? 

Read More

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.

Deeper Reading

Dave Brisbin | 4.23.17
Just as Jesus’ closest friends were kept from recognizing him after the Resurrection because of their limiting expectations and beliefs, we are kept from seeing the deeper meaning of scripture for the same reason. But even to make such a statement that interprets a passage of scripture beyond the strictly literal meaning of the text demands some explanation. What is an acceptable method of scriptural interpretation that can take us to a deeper reading, a reading beyond the literal, moving us to a spiritual understanding and relevance for our daily lives that is still consistent with the author’s original intent? To answer that question, we need to know how the writers of scripture understood the interpretation of sacred texts in their own time. 

Read More

The ancient Rabbis of Judaism used four increasingly deeper methods of pulling meaning from their sacred books. Here, we focus on just one, the one they called “midrash” and see how its use can take legitimately us to a deeper reading of each of the passages associated with the days of Holy Week, and especially how we can understand the events of Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday in deeper terms. If we can’t expand our notion of how to read scripture in a deeper way, the way the authors of scripture intended, how will we ever come to a deeper reading of a text that was written to be always living and active in our daily lives?

Among the Living

Dave Brisbin | 4.16.17
Easter Sunday: Why do all the Gospels preserve stories of Jesus’ closest friends not recognizing him after the Resurrection? Mary in the garden, travelers along the Emmaus road, Peter and the fisherman on the lake. The central question the angels ask the women who have come early Sunday morning to anoint Jesus’ body–why do you look for the living among the dead?—questions our deepest assumptions and beliefs if we will let it. The women expected Jesus to be exactly where they left him Friday afternoon, and we do the same in slavishly following our own expectations and belief systems. Jesus is ushering in something radically different, always in motion, just as spirit itself is always in motion, as life itself is defined by motion. 

Read More

As soon as a belief of ours becomes set, static, no longer moving, it is no longer alive—and Jesus is not there any more than he is in a graveyard of motionless corpses. The message to us, if we are looking for the risen Lord, is not to look in static beliefs—where we expect him to be—but in the blur of motion that is daily life, in each seemingly insignificant detail among those living life. In allowing our beliefs and trust to move and expand in directions we would never expect, we not only find the risen Lord, but the new life that Resurrection promises us all.

Thin Disguise

Dave Brisbin | 4.9.17
Palm Sunday, What is the real message behind Palm Sunday. Sunday school graduates can all remember that Palm Sunday gets its name from the palm branches that the people waved in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem beginning the week of his passion and death. Some of us will remember that the palm fronds symbolized the people welcoming him as a victorious king and how that unnerved the watching Jewish and Roman authorities. But how does that translate to us, two thousand years and a world away from those events. Why is it preserved in our sacred text and what can it teach us?  

Read More

Entering in to the mindset of each of the various players in the story—the people, the Jewish and Roman authorities, Jesus’ first followers—looking at the symbolism of palms and donkeys, reading the alluded prophecies, looking at the real meaning of hosanna, mixed with Jesus’ pronouncement over Jerusalem as he entered the city and wept, we find the crux of the message here. That every moment is Palm Sunday in our lives, that every moment Jesus rides in on the colt of a donkey defying whatever expectation we have of him, inviting us to see him for what and who he really is so that we never again miss the hour of our visitation.

Footwashers at Heart

Dave Brisbin | 4.2.17
On the fifth Sunday of Lent, looking at Lent as a positive-negative: an affirmative stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence, the image at John’s last supper of Jesus stripping his garments, tying a towel around his hips and moving from friend to friend at table, washing feet gives us another Lenten principle in preparation for new life. It is extremely difficult for us as modern Westerner to appreciate just how mind blowingly outrageous and offensive Jesus’ actions would have been to his friends. There is no relevant analogy for us to bring home the shock of a revered teacher, rabbi, a spiritual master and healer doing what even Jewish slaves were not obligated to do–what was relegated to Gentile slaves. It was dirty, impure, and humiliating work, underscored by Peter’s initial refusal to allow Jesus to wash him. 

Read More

Something this profound either bounces off our cultural force fields and doesn’t penetrate at all or we quickly moralize it to say that God wants us to be humble and in service to each other, which also misses the central point: that Jesus sees himself as the servant of everyone and anyone in his path, that he exists to serve and pour out everything he has, and as he and the Father are one, that our Father in heaven is a servant as well. The outrage we may feel if the creator of heaven and earth were to bow to wash our feet begins to welcome us to Peter’s world. But as Jesus told him: if we can’t accept who our God really is, we can’t have any part of him and remain unprepared for the new life on the other side of that acceptance.

My Piece of the Puzzle

Frank Billman | 3.26.17
On the fourth Sunday of Lent, looking at Lent as a positive-negative: an affirmative stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence, Pastor Frank examines what it means to find our place in community. Using Paul’s beautiful simile for the body of Christ of a human body with all its parts forming a unified whole, identifying, becoming aware of our place, function, meaning, and purpose in our community in the various bodies in which we work and play and love is essential to being able to find acceptance of the present moment, to realize that we are exactly where we should be, doing exactly what we should be doing. 

Read More

And if we realize there is another part we are hardwired to play, to begin the process of change that will bring our lives into clearer focus—without losing the balance of now and promise of radical change that is the hallmark of the Hebrew bride and our metaphor for kingdom life.

Latest News

Upcoming events, announcements, ministry updates, blogs.

Message Archive

Watch us live online, watch and listen to archived messages and gatherings.

Personal Stories

Stories from people who’ve experienced the effect of theeffect in their lives.
Share This

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.

 

SEE MORE

You have Successfully Subscribed!

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.

 

Effect in Action

You have Successfully Subscribed!

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.

 

Join Us

You have Successfully Subscribed!

X