Dave Brisbin 11.1.20
What happens to children growing up in a house with parents who hold such high standards that they are essentially impossible to please? How do children respond when the only acceptance and approval they know seem wholly based on their performance? When they can never know whether their performance will be enough? Faced with a graceless environment, they can either keep trying to earn acceptance and approval or stop—overachievers and dropouts. Of course, these are not hard categories; we move along a continuum between striving for lofty goals and giving up, but one is generally favored. And what is true for children and parents remains true for all of us in our relationship with God.

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Graceless churches and theologies produce a continuum from those who follow law, doctrine, and practice as perfectly as possible to be “right” with God, to those who eventually give up the fight. In one of the most vivid stories in the gospels, Jesus is placed squarely between the entitlement of an overachiever and the shame of a dropout. And it is Jesus’ grace, in fact, just the promise of his grace that carries the dropout through the barrier of her shame, off the continuum of a legal, contractual relationship with God, to find that grace is a real thing, even for her. The question Jesus is asking all of us is whether we’re ready get off the hamster wheel of the continuum…whether we’re ready to take an unmerited leap through the paper barrier of our shame and into an acceptance and approval that exists without condition.

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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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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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