blogs

Here’s where we can hold virtual hands and talk to each other along the way. We hope to connect as much as possible using available technology to bring us together in spite of our busy, distracted lives. In addition to our blog, here are a couple of external blogs by our staff.

Pastor Dave’s blog on various subjects dealing with faith and life and non-religious Christian spirituality. Look below for some recent posts and follow link for full archive.

theeffect Women is Marian Brisbin’s blog connecting women to events, activities, inspirational material, and to each other.

Being the Beloved

Looking at love from God’s point of view, we can ask theologically what this love is and what it looks like. We can even ask how can we begin to grasp its infinite scope. But maybe what’s more important is to begin with the assumption of its reality and then ask what it means for us to be the beloved? In other words, to look at God’s love from our point of view. What does a person beloved of God look like? Fortunately, we have an example that jumps off the pages of scripture because his name actually means beloved. David, the boy who became Israel’s greatest king is described as a “man after God’s own heart,” God’s beloved. But a quick review of everything we know of David’s life and actions show us a man who looks anything but beloved. Capable of the greatest courage, loyalty, faithfulness, and exuberance, he is also capable of the greatest cruelty, selfishness, arrogance, and disregard for life. Which is the beloved part? Why was he chosen for belovedness? What does his story tell us about ours? It tells us that David wasn’t God’s beloved because he deserved it or earned it, but only because he believed it to be true so deeply that he never stopped coming back to God. No matter how far he strayed, he trusted that God was always just a breath away, breathing his return to God’s presence. David represents the extremes of human behavior in a beloved package. And though our behavior may be much less extreme, the package is no less beloved.

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Water from the Sky

It’s impossible to overestimate the influence our fathers have had on our view of life and ultimately of God. Even given all the variations in families and fluid parenting roles today, fathers tend to be less present to small children than mothers and more the disciplinarian, so we learn how the world works primarily from our fathers in terms of the judging of performance and consequences of non-approval. And as our churches have reinforced the traditional role of the father theologically, transferring lessons learned from bio fathers to Father in heaven, we see love and approval as scarce and contingent commodities, making trust in God difficult.  But Jesus is painting a very different picture. When we look at his stories and teachings, when we look at the Aramaic words he used in the first lines of the Lord’s Prayer, when we consider how he lived his own relationships, we see an exuberant extravagance, an overwhelming abundance always flowing from Father that can’t be stopped or slowed in any way. Just as a desert dweller living in a culture built around the scarcity of water can’t conceive of living where water falls from the sky, Jesus is trying to show us that the perceived scarcity of love and acceptance on which our lives are built can change in an instant once we experience a love that literally falls from the sky.

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Kingdom of Grace

Provoking line from a film: I don’t know what it is about going to high school with someone that makes you feel you’re automatically friends for life. Who says? Who says friendship lasts forever?

Older I get, one of the hardest aspects of life I’ve had to accept is the impermanence of friendships.

Younger, I did automatically think that my cloud of friends would just keep growing and somehow never disperse. But years have taught that friendships move in and out of focus, constantly shifting, aligning, drifting—that friendships can have their foundation in geography or projects or specific communities, times of life, mindsets…friends move away, take new jobs, lose old jobs, marry, change churches, become convinced of radically different thoughts, and of course they can die.

There are also those friendships that can go months or years without contact, and like desert seeds or hibernating frogs, when reconnected—a little water added—they spring back to life as if yesterday. But as precious as these friendships are, without day to day contact, they just can’t scratch the human itch.

As a pastor for nearly twenty years, I’d begun to feel this impermanence was on steroids in church settings—that friends came and went faster there than anywhere else. Then I began thinking maybe it was because when you’re running a business, you have friends and you have clients, and it’s pretty clear which are which. But in a church everything gets mixed together and you start counting those as friends who, when they leave sometimes without a word, you realize were more client.

Now I’m thinking it’s actually the way life is supposed to work.

After all, what is it about going to church with someone that makes you feel you’re automatically friends together for life…

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Aviary

My wife has become quite the bird lady.

With the running fountain and canopy of trees that came with the house we moved into last year and the little cloth bags full of seed and hummingbird juice she buys and places in the trees, our backyard has become a theme park with wings. And the birds come. It seems every species in our area has shown up at one time or another.

Watching the birds come and go, eating, flying, perching, bathing, singing, I have my favorites. The finches and hummingbirds, the doves that do more walking than flying…especially when they show up in pairs, and I imagine them mated for life on some sort of date walking together along the edge of the stone retainer wall.

Then I see this jet black bird with fire engine red wings, a show stopper, and think wouldn’t it be great to wait for the perfect mix of birds, then throw a net over the whole thing—one big aviary holding all my favorites. There’d be plenty of room for them to fly and feel free, and I could see them any and every time I looked out, avoiding those days of monochrome sparrows or nothing at all.

But next thought is that the moment the net goes over, I’m responsible for those birds, feeding and cleaning, making sure they were tended if I had to leave town. And the thought after that was that there would never again be the widening smile over a bird I’d never seen before, the wondering where they go when gone, or the returning gratitude of knowing that of all the other yards and places they could have been, the birds chose our yard, our food and water. Chose us

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Leaving Jesus

So I get on my iCalendar to do some scheduling for Easter week, and there’s no Easter. April Fool’s Day is there, which falls on the same day, but no Easter, no Good Friday. I read later that Apple has intentionally removed Good Friday and Easter from their calendar?

Hard to know for sure as internet information goes these days. But that I wouldn’t have been particularly surprised if it were true spoke volumes about what seems to be more and more sure—that we have entered a post Christian culture in the US.

Millions have been leaving mainline Protestant denominations for decades, but over the past ten years, a million have also left the Baptist Convention and even Evangelicals have lost up to ten percent of their membership. Various studies show that over 60 percent of young people don’t identify as Christian, and a group called the “nones,” those who refuse any religious identification, has grown to over a quarter of the population.

One Baptist leader is quoted as saying that there’s “no longer a social benefit to identifying as a Christian…often not only no social prestige to gain, there’s also prestige to lose if you say you are a Christian in our society…”

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God’s Shade

Growing up Catholic, I would walk into the confessional and kneel in the dark waiting for the warm rub of wood on wood as the lattice window slid open. My cue. Bless me father for I have sinned…

As a grade schooler, I was mostly manufacturing a lineup of the usual sin suspects in there, but it was still comforting to know I could lay my guilt at someone’s feet, accept my penance, and walk away clean. But thinking back, I realize the only time I really felt clean, sure of God’s forgiveness, was praying my penance at the communion rail, knowing I had fulfilled my part so God would do his. Soon as I walked back out to the street, bets were off again.

Just now in the early dark, the words forgive me Father are right there on the tip of my mind, and I smile at myself, because it’s so natural to ask. It’s a beautiful thing to repair relationships with our amends, apologies, and a formal request for forgiveness.

But would I stand in front of a tree and say, shade me? I go to the tree for shade because the definition of a tree includes branches and leaves, an accidental canopy against the sun. The tree doesn’t decide who it will shade or when to withhold, if I’m close enough, I’m shaded. Would I stand before a fire and say, warm me or by a waterfall and say, cool me? I go to these things for their gifts, but I don’t have to ask. I just have to be close enough…

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furnace

Just now in the dark, coming out of silent prayer. First light brightening the windows. Wife and boys sleeping. Dogs sleeping. Cat sleeping. Very quiet. Furnace blows on and the warm breath and dark rushing are all at once comforting. Always have been. I remember as a small boy in bed loving the sound and trying hard to fall sleep before it stopped.

I sit at my desk. Stack of bills to pay. All the tasks of the day, things I know are pressing, haven’t yet found their full weight in the dark. There was a moment in my prayer time when a thought played through the silence: that I was focused on so many things that were temporary, timing out, just blowing past on some unseen cycle.

Like being in one of those sensory deprivation chambers…when I haven’t moved a muscle for half an hour and can’t feel myself anymore, when I’ve stepped away from racing thoughts, and a phone hasn’t rung, and everyone is sleeping somewhere in the dark, who’s to say what’s really substantial?

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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.

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.

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

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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.

 

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