2016 Archives

God in a Box

Frank Billman | 7.17.16
We have become so familiar with what we belief about God that we believe we know and understand him—who he is, what he does, how he works…that he is “he” at all. But the moment we define God, create edges that allow us to handle and carry him around, we have changed everything. God won’t fit into any definition or category or theology. God won’t fit into human thought at all, and the more we think on God the less we are open to his presence in our lives. How can we know God as God really is?

The Answer

Dave Brisbin | 7.10.16
What is the greatest impediment to gratefulness? To the trust of gratefulness? Seems it would have to be the hurts and traumas, the victimization, the evil that we encounter in our personal lives, and those of others either close or in the world at large. How do we continue to see God as compassionate and fair, how do we see life as fundamentally nurturing or safe, when there are monsters about hurting us and others? The problem of evil in our lives seems to contradict the portrait of God painted by Jesus as loving father. 

Read More

The oldest book of the bible, the book of Job, deals with these essential themes—as they’ve been questioned as long as there have been human being experiencing them. And the final answer to Job as God speaks to him from the whirlwind is that there is no answer that can be given to us in this life that will satisfy our minds, but there is an answer that can satisfy our hearts. A way of living that brings the paradox of the reality of perfect love and the experience of evil together in a way most unexpected.

The Way of Gratefulness

Dave Brisbin | 7.03.16
What is the effect of the mindfulness, the presence and awareness of the contemplative way? Living on the edge of inside, neither fully inside or outside, at the threshold, able to see what is really now and not just what we already think we believe, gives us a way of living life that simply can’t be experienced except with gratitude. Gratitude is the reaction, the state of living in the awareness of a gift given to us that we could never give ourselves. It is the sense of awareness in us that creates both a humility and sense of dependency, but also the sense of being cared for that leads to trust. 

Read More

Deeper than a mere feeling, gratefulness is the effect of beginning to know a truth about ourselves and God and the relationship between us. It is the sensation of the freedom that comes from knowing this truth. Jesus is insistent on knowing this truth that sets us free, and to bring this truth home, teaches us two basic principles, that if internalized and lived out, will bring us out along the way of gratefulness.

The Edge of Inside

Dave Brisbin | 6.26.16
In our society, and especially in the midst of a presidential election cycle, it is easy to become completely polarized—to “drink the kool-aid” and go all in with one group or another, one party or another, one religion or another. To become completely imprinted with the tenets, the groupthink of our choosing. From this perch, it is easy to imagine that we have the corner on truth, all the truth, and all others do not, that we are good and others are bad, are less than, need to be persuaded or controlled for their own good, and ours. It is a perch from which personal growth stops as we hunker down to convert the world to what we already know. In this mindset, there is no dialog or conversation, there is no relationship or love that is not conditioned on first meeting our standard of belief. 

Read More

But Jesus and the great contemplatives of the world show us another way: a way to live on the edge of inside, on the threshold between groups and belief systems that keeps us open and aware, watching the comings and goings, alert to truth wherever it presents. This is sometimes called liminal space, but Jesus simply calls it Kingdom, the place where like children we are open to the moment as it presents and not always imagining it as we believe it should be.

Prodigal Father

Dave Brisbin | 6.19.16
Fathers’ Day: Ancient Hebrews envisioned their God the way they experienced the patriarchs of their clans—as king, judge, executioner, administrator—as the strength of their houses, which is what the Hebrew word for father, Ab, actually means. And though they also had a balancing notion of God as mother too, as wisdom, compassion, love—the glue that held the family together—it was Ab by which they referred to God. Jesus had an ingenious solution to create balance. He called God his “abba,” the name children would use for their fathers…a term of intimacy and affection. 

Read More

It created the perfect balance of respect and connection, masculine strength and feminine compassion. Then he went on to illustrate in story after story how this played out. And in the story of prodigal son, if we’re really paying attention we realize that it’s not so much the extravagant, even wasteful spending of the son that is the focus, but that of the father who lavishes all he has on his son, no matter the quality of his behavior. In that extravagant love, we see that our Father is prodigal too.


mindfully present

dave brisbin | 6.12.16
Speaking of the contemplative way of spirituality in conceptual terms is necessary at the outset, especially for those of us from the West, who are so intellectually based, but it is in many respects, a contradiction in terms. The contemplative way is not intellectually based at all—it is by definition a stepping away from the intellectual in order to non-judgmentally experience the lived moment. But how do we do this? How we step away?

Read More

There is prayer and there is suffering that can guide us in intensive and specific ways, but there is another. Br. Lawrence called it the Practice of the Presence of God. Instead of specific times of prayer and devotion, there is a constant awareness of God’s presence that we can cultivate through all the daily details of our lives, an awareness that will give us the continual prayer, the constant contact that Paul speaks of. Today, this is sometimes called mindfulness—but mindfulness without the awareness of Presence may still not take us where we want to go, so it’s a blending of the two that Br. Lawrence is showing us. How do we do it, what are some day to day exercises we can use to bring us another step closer to kingdom?

apophatic way

dave brisbin | 6.5.16
One of the words ancient Christians used to describe the contemplative way was the word “apophatic.” From the Greek, it literally means to deny speaking or saying. In Latin, it is sometimes called the “via negative” or negative way—negative in the sense of emptying the mind of words, images, ideas in order to rest in God’s presence. In our contemporary culture, this seems somehow perverse in terms of coming into a connection with God.

Read More

But as we look as Jesus’ time in the wilderness, his staring down the temptations of the adversary from a place of emptiness, his wild, paradoxical sayings of accomplishing by letting go, finding our lives by losing them, his insistence in the Beatitudes of the centrality of “negative” aspects of poverty of spirit, mournfulness, meekness, hunger and thirst as characteristic of kingdom, we see the apophatic way illustrated. To sell all we have and give to the poor in order to follow Jesus into the father’s presence is a letting go of all we think we have and know and believe in order to stand like children in the father’s presence and see what is really before us again for the first time.

a contemplative how

dave brisbin | 5.22.16
As we dig deeper into the contemplative way of spirituality, we need to break down religious and cultural barriers. Contemplation, as we’re using it, is a stepping away from the all the thoughts, worries, concerns, and noise in our minds that keeps us from mindful presence right here and now—the only place we will ever meet our God: here and now. 

Read More

Modern Western Christian churches have expressed concern over contemplative practice, labeling it occult, but there is nothing occult about Christian contemplative practice that dates all the way back to the earliest generations of Jesus’ followers, and of course to Jesus himself. How did Jesus practice contemplative prayer and life? Where do we see this practice in scripture, and how do we enter into such practice in our lives today? We need to know more about a contemplative how.

accidental radicals

Dave Brisbin | 5.15.16
Jesus is often seen, from a modern, Western viewpoint as a social reformer, a radical revolutionary, the founder of a new religion, working to tear down existing systems in favor of the poor and marginalized. Though Jesus was revolutionary in his expression of his relationship with God/Father, to see him as a social reformer or radical is to misunderstand his message, mission, and Jewishness. 

Read More

Jesus wasn’t trying to start a new religion, but purify the one he was already in. He was an observant Jew to the core, but his sense of oneness with his Father, our Father, made him one with everyone and everything else in creation, including those his religion had excluded. When you look at Jesus and his way of life from a Jewish point of view, what you see is someone so immersed in life and relationship and the lived moment as to be truly radical, but the radicalness is only accidental, a by-product of purposeful immersion in life.

only a mother could love

Dave Brisbin | 5.8.16
On Mother’s Day, we look at the role of mothers and fathers in ancient Hebrew society as illustrated in the language itself. Father in Hebrew means “strong house” and mother means “strong water,” that when understood in context means the “glue that holds the family together.” Strong house and strong water speak to the necessity of both doing and being, of accomplishment and relationship that undergird human life as a whole. We won’t find meaning and purpose without both father and mother in our lives, and we won’t find God either. 

Read More

God is neither masculine nor feminine and is both at the same time. Hebrews understood that their God carried the qualities of strong house and water in perfect balance, and that though God as king was indeed the strength of the house, we always experience him first as mother—the compassion, mercy, and wisdom of the glue that holds everything together. That Jesus always led every encounter, every relationship with compassion and mercy shows us the Way of God, loving first no matter how unlovely we may be—loving as only a mother could love.

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.

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.



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.

Our Sunday gathering starts at 10AM and includes worship with one of the best worship bands in the area. We also have online discussion and study groups on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 6:30P PST. See our interactive 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!

Share This