message archive

Audio recordings of messages from Sunday and some Tuesday Recovery Gatherings are archived here for downloading or streaming. You can browse current year messages below from most recent to oldest, or select a category for specific years or one of our “boxed sets,” message series on specific topics.




Breaking Boundaries

Dave Brisbin 7.16.23
Thirty years ago, three men, Catholic priests, gave me some of their time, became key figures, teachers in my life. I didn’t see it then—it takes time to see trajectories being established, the paths that remain. One of the three I only met once, but I still remember his name and the names on all the book covers he pointed out at the bookstore that afternoon. The other two I knew longer, a period of years. They counseled me and challenged me and then they were gone. I always thought we’d reconnect, but two of them died years ago, and we never did.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears. They came into my life exactly when I was ready to receive them, gave me what they had become, and though they left again before I was ready, I still remember their names.

The hardest part of being a pastor is watching people go. Letting those who have become friends go their way, sometimes never knowing if you really helped, never hearing the rest of the story. But like teachers and parents, for most of the relationships we engage, at some point the nest empties. Life takes them in and out of focus and proximity. We assume and want to believe that all our relationships will last a lifetime, but whether they do or not, they are only ever experienced as moments of connection.

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I’ve looked at life from both sides now. And though it can still hurt, I can finally see the way of it, the necessity of it. When we’re ready, a person appears, and we let down our defenses and let them in…show up, break boundaries, connect, give all we’ve become, and when it’s time, let go. If we can’t let go, the strings attached show us how it was much more about meeting our own needs than a gift freely given, the simple flow of who we’d become.

Jesus healed ten lepers one day. Sent them off to the temple to be restored to their families. Only one came back to thank him. That didn’t stop Jesus from doing the very same thing the very next day. Our moments of connection define us. There is no outcome or legacy, no rest of the story. Just the willingness to break a boundary and make all you’ve become available to whomever you’re with.


Deep Water

Dave Brisbin 7.9.23

One of the rallying cries of the Protestant Reformation five hundred years ago was “sola scriptura,” which means scripture alone reveals God’s word to humankind. For any Christian who holds the bible in such esteem, what they believe about the book is more predictive of their thought, behavior, and emotion than what they believe about God. If the book is the supreme authority revealing God’s nature and relationship with us, then how we interpret the printed word dictates how we hear God’s word. Unless…

The Greek of the New Testament uses two different words we translate as word. The most common one is logos, which signifies the constancy of the written word: the underlying meaning, reason, intent behind it. The other, lesser known and less used, is rhema—the spoken word, a call, the action of uttering a thing said. It is always immediate, present, personal, and spoken now. Plato used rhema as the verb/action that drives the logos, noun/proposition, into being. Rhema is the living voice of God, the call that requires a response.

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In Luke 5, Jesus is beset by such a large crowd at the shore of the Galilean sea, that he climbs into Peter’s boat, already pulled ashore for the day, and asks Peter to put out a little way from the land. Sitting in the boat, he teaches his word to the people on the shore and then tells Peter to put out into deeper water for a catch. Peter resists at first, saying they were fishing all night and caught nothing, but then stops, takes a breath, and says, but upon your word, we go. The word heard by the people sitting safely on the shore was logos. The word Peter hears, the call to the risk of deeper water and a miracle breakthrough, was rhema.

We tend to think in terms of sola—this or that alone. Both logos and rhema are necessary for moving from hearing to listening, passivity to action, understanding to knowing. Logos gives us a paradigm, belief enough to put out a little way from the shore, gain the confidence for something more. Logos is not the final answer. It’s only mind deep, but prepares us to hear rhema, the call to put out to deeper water and drive logos into being.


Always Today

Dave Brisbin 6.25.23
Heard of an elevator speech? You get on an elevator with someone of influence who wants to know what you do. Could you tell them before the doors open again? Thirty seconds to get across mission, vision, meaning, purpose, maybe even a bit of identity. Three or four sentences to be clear, concise, compelling. Obviously, this is a must for sales and marketing, but applies to anything we do with intention or passion. Including our spiritual practice…especially spiritual practice.

If we can’t express the crux and intent of our spirituality in one sentence, in one word, it’s likely we’re not experiencing it on a daily basis.

Jesus understood this. So did Br. Lawrence, a 17th century French monk who said that his spiritual life was all about presence, that the practice of the presence of God is the spiritual life itself. One word, one sentence…they ordered his life and experience. Jesus said that his Way to the Father was all about love, to seek first the Kingdom of God, and all else would be added. Different? What is love without presence that unites love with beloved? And how can presence be experienced without expressing love in its purest form—identification with the beloved? And what is Kingdom but the quality of life when love as presence has become the basis of who we are?

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Br. Lawrence and Jesus are saying exactly the same thing with different elevator speeches tuned to their own audiences and cultures. And they are saying it today. Their today, our today. Always today, because once you’ve experienced presence, you know it can only exist today, and can only be expressed in the language of today. All the sayings, stories, teachings that Jesus voices are active, present, and radically immediate. There is no escaping todayness in his elevator.

But today is terrifying. No wiggle room. Today demands a choice, now. Will we “enter” the presence of Kingdom today, this moment, or not? Much more comfortable to imagine truth out there somewhere distant, someday after tomorrow. But all the truth that matters is right here, within us, within our families, friendships, communities. Our presence makes it so. Today.

Our Extravagant Father

Dave Brisbin 6.18.23  Father’s Day
One of the greatest science fiction novels ever, Dune, finally made into a decent movie last year, takes us to a planet that is entirely desert. Sand dunes encircle the globe like an ocean punctuated by islands of scorched rock, the only refuge against the immense sandworms that swim the dunes like leviathan. In such a world, the culture, religion worldview, behavior, discipline of the native people—every detail of daily life, every ritual and concern—revolves around the scarcity of water, their lifesource.

As both principle and metaphor, the world of Dune describes us humans on any world at any time. Whatever we experience or perceive as scarce becomes the center of our concern. We wrap our time, attention, effort, religion, culture, hopes, and dreams around it. Whether gold or oil, fame or power, youth, health, wealth, it becomes an object of worship and center of attention. But back on Dune, an outworlder tells a group of natives that where she was born, water fell from the sky, ran in wide rivers, vast oceans… There is an audible gasp from the people, sighs, awe at such possibility.

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We also live a desert mentality of scarcity, competition, rationing, thirst, fear. Our experience and culture have installed this worldview, and our churches have reinforced it, applied it to God. We imagine God’s love and acceptance as scarce—withheld and elusive—and we obsess over performing to acquire them, aim religion and ritual at convincing God to bestow them. What if we stepped off a starship, onto a planet where God’s love fell from the sky?

Jesus is trying to show us that we don’t need a starship. Such a planet is already ours, and scarce is not a word in Jesus’ vocabulary. His God is insanely extravagant, abundant beyond belief with trillions of stars in trillions of galaxies, tethering trillions of planets with trillions of life forms in his back pocket. All of them good in God’s eyes, swimming in a love that falls from the sky. Squinting through the downpour, Jesus wonders when we will become willing to drop the nets of our performance and sell the possession of any worldview that imagines otherwise.


One Sentence

Dave Brisbin 6.11.23
Can you state your spiritual journey, the whole of your search for meaning, in just one sentence? Br. Lawrence, a 17th century French monk, did just that: The presence of God is what the spiritual life is all about, and by practicing it, one becomes spiritual. Of course he was only channeling Jesus: Seek first the Kingdom, and all else is added. God is unity, oneness; kingdom is being one with God and all God has touched—being present to Presence. Both sentences are one: practice presence, get it all.

Jesus loved one sentence, one-liners. Used them to describe what it meant to practice presence: unless we become little children we can’t enter kingdom; unless we exceed the righteousness of the law; unless we are born again, sell everything we own, lose our lives, deny ourselves, we can’t experience that pure connection. All these point at letting go of rational understanding in favor of something indefinable, uncontrollable—spirit experienced like wind, the meaning of spirituality itself invisibly breathing by.

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I read an article by a long term care chaplain who over the years has sat with over five hundred people at the end of their lives. And what she learned was that “there are many instances when meaning has no truth or value or place in reality.” That a rational expression of meaning “breaks down precisely at the juncture of crisis and death.” That to simply listen, to “sit with the reality of the unknown…has plunged me into depths I cannot always fathom…caused me to see beyond words and action. There is, in truth, no separateness, for all is one, deeply and profoundly one, interdependent and grounded in oneness.”

Rational meaning breaks down, as all physical systems do, at the point of transcendence, just when we imagine we need it most. At the extremes of life, the junctures of crisis and death when meaning is most intense, it becomes inexpressible, invisible. We can assign words in retrospect, but at the moment we experience spiritual meaning, words are a distraction at best, an insult if spoken. All we can do is be present. Wordlessly present. Do that, get it all.

We can fit that in one sentence.


Answering the Call

Dave Brisbin 6.4.23
It can be jarring, offensive to talk about Jesus having to learn and grow in wisdom…even more to think of him working through his own human obsessive-compulsive drives to a place of presence, balance, emotional regulation. Though we were taught, at least implicitly, a fully self-aware Jesus lying in the manger, the gospels tell a very different story. That Jesus was human in every way that we are, had to work through every development we all do. No shortcuts.

When the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness, he was being called to a hero’s journey, the personal growth cycle always initiated by loss or insight stark enough to devastate our self-narrative, our view of the world as we know it. We don’t have to answer this call—most of us don’t the first dozen or so times. Some never do. To answer the call is to leave our old, too-small world and security behind to face a new world we know nothing of, full of tasks we don’t know how to complete. But if we persevere and complete the cycle, we return where we started with interior gifts for those willing to receive.

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Jesus answers his call and puts down the three symbolic “temptations” of our human need to be relevant, powerful, and spectacular, our drives for security and survival, power and control, affection and esteem. He finds his meaning and purpose in his identity with his Father who he can now call Abba out of intimate familiarity. He is so transformed by this journey, that his hometown neighbors who watched him grow up are astonished. Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? But one hero’s gift is the next person’s call to their own journey, a challenge to their own narrative. For those not yet ready, not only unwelcome, but a threat to oppose. Violently.

Jesus’ hero-gift, gospel, declaration of hope to the brokenhearted, is the truth that we are all as loved, free, forgiven as we want to be. Right now. Today. But today is terrifying for those unready to leave their nets at the shore. Today demands decision, challenges the security of our narrative. Jesus learned that the waiting is over, everything we need is already here. Just need to answer the call to make it so.


Graduating Obedience

Dave Brisbin 5.28.23 Pentecost
Jesus heals two blind men with spit, and there’s been endless speculation why Jesus would use such a strange way to heal. Passing a man born blind on the Sabbath, Jesus spits on the ground, kneads the dirt into mud, applies it to the man’s eyes, and tells him to go wash. Why the spit and dirt?

To heal with a simple word, would not break the unwritten rules prohibiting work on the Sabbath as taught and enforced by the Pharisees. But kneading the saliva and dirt did. Jesus is going out of his way to put mud in the eye of these rules that had grown exponentially to such a burden on the people as to subvert the intent of the written Law. To imply that God was just about obedience to an inflexible system of ritual justification, obliterated the degreeless love that Jesus represented.

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Jesus heals the second blind man by spitting directly on his eyes. At first, the man can only see dimly, blurry people walking around like trees. Jesus lays hands on him again, and full sight is restored. In Jewish culture, to spit in a person’s face was an ultimate insult, complete rejection—yet only after this insult and a second laying of hands is the man fully healed. This story is followed by another in which Jesus tells his followers that he will be rejected, humiliated, killed, then will rise again. That if they intend to follow him, they will also have to take up their crosses and lose their lives before they find them. The two stories are meant to be understood together.

Jesus was spat upon, had to descend, lose everything it meant to be himself before rising to new life. We all must endure the same loss before rising to the Pentecost moment when we finally see clearly that we’re healed. Jesus’ followers saw him only dimly, clinging to their beliefs about law and justice restored when Jesus and they would rise to power. But Jesus is showing that obedience as a form of control is not enough. Only in the humiliating loss of all sense of personal power can we clearly see the truth of a love that obliterates law.


Saying Yes

Dave Brisbin 5.21.23
Last week someone asked how I would reimagine church. What would I change? We had just passed our 16th anniversary as a church—I said that’s exactly what we did sixteen years ago. We were a subversive lot back then, wanted to make a big statement about our differences. I was twenty years into study of Jesus from a Hebrew/Aramaic perspective and a personal contemplative journey. Our leadership group had formed around those principles, so we wanted our statement centered on those differences.

We didn’t want to call ourselves Christian or church; those terms were loaded, descriptive of a different worldview. We wanted to de-emphasize theology in favor of personal experience in contemplative practice, using theology to limit our error rather than make absolute statements—embrace the uncertainty, paradox of this life. We wanted our gatherings (not services) to be EPIC—experiential, participatory, image-based, communal. We experimented. We started as a recovery church that also worshipped together, working with addicts and alcoholics, trying to stand the model of community church on its head. We saw ourselves chasing the effect of God’s love on our daily lives rather than a theological cause, answering both the necessary steps of early recovery and Jesus’ Aramaic Way. We saw everyone as recovering from something.

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Honestly, we’ve stayed true to those principles, but the reality of a generation of community life has changed us. The losses we’ve sustained, the deaths, overdoses, disagreements, rejections—but also the miracles, healings, recovery, friendships.

What were we saying yes to sixteen years ago when we reimagined?

We said yes to having everything we thought we knew about ourselves, life, reimagined church and our ability to build it, challenged, dissolved. Loss of certainty, broken hearts, shattered faith. But as we kept showing up, what grew back after the wildfires was recovery. Miracles we never saw coming. We said yes to life unredacted, unadorned, unclothed. Would I say yes all over again? In a heartbeat.


Perfect Parent

Dave Brisbin 5.14.23
Patriarchal and paternal. Two words descending from the Latin word pater/father, but a patriarchal system is one that is male dominated and a paternal system is one where leadership—male or female—restricts the autonomy of people supposedly for their own good. Our country began shamefully patriarchal but not paternal—the states jealously guarded their freedoms. Today we’re much less patriarchal but more and more paternal, losing freedom in the name of the common good.

Whether you feel this is appropriate is not so much the point on Mother’s Day as the role women are playing. The assumption has always been that if women were in charge of things, there’d be more balance, and the world wouldn’t be such a mess. But as women take more seats of power, is anything really changing, or does power make men and women look the same? Is matriarchy as toxic as patriarchy and equally paternal?

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As a model of balance, the perfect parent/government, we certainly should be able to point to God. But is God just another patriarchy? In scripture, God is referred to as male by name and pronoun, but how is “he” portrayed? Ruach, malkutha, shekinah, hockhmah—spirit, kingdom, presence, wisdom—are all feminine Hebrew nouns, so in spirit, presence, wisdom, God is “she,” and kingdom is queendom. God is consistently depicted as a mother birthing, caressing, and suckling her children. Jesus calls God abba, a child’s word conveying an intimacy first experienced as emma/mother, and he leads every personal encounter with a mother’s acceptance before the teaching of father.

Making our government and churches more equitable means more than the number of seats occupied by men and women. The Hebrew mind couldn’t conceive of God apart from a perfect balance of father and mother—masculine and feminine, justice and mercy, knowledge and wisdom, logic and intuition, performance and acceptance, accomplishment and intimacy. Until we meet Mother God ourselves, we’ll never know Father God. Until we who occupy seats of power become more perfect parents, our institutions will remain toxic and paternal, whether patriarchal, matriarchal, or anywhere in between.


Tale of Two Healings

Dave Brisbin 5.7.23
A man has been ill for thirty-eight years. Ill enough that he’s spent all those years lying by a public pool begging for a living and waiting for a healing. Jesus comes by and asks him if he wishes to be well. After thirty-eight years, that should be insulting. The biggest no-brainer of all time. And yet, the man can’t simply say yes, exclamation point. He complains there is no one to help him get into the pool when the healing waters stir. But that’s not what Jesus asked.

What exactly did Jesus ask? In Aramaic, it would be something like tsaveh d’ethelem. Tsaveh is a form of tsevyana, the word we translate as will, but in the sense of desire, delight, pleasure, deepest purpose. Ethelem is complete wellness, wholeness, and health. Paul uses the word to denote sound doctrine, so we could say integrated—sound mind and body—just as shalom (peace) is really the greatest amount of connection, health, prosperity. Jesus’ question is all-encompassing: is your deepest purpose and desire to be whole, integrated, living in shalom, in kingdom?

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These ancients viewed illness not as a medical problem, but the tragedy of being taken out of the flow of day-to-day life, to lose social standing and interaction with family, friends, neighbors, commerce. To be healed was to be restored to community, everything that gives meaning to life. Jesus knows this man is sick, not just physically, but spiritually, emotionally, relationally. When he can’t simply say yes to wholeness, we all know he is steeped in a victim mentality that keeps him from the relationships that are healing and forgiveness, restoration to all that life offers.

Jesus heals the man anyway, but he doesn’t even ask his name or look for him afterwards to thank or follow. The deeper sickness remains. Jesus finds him later and tells him now that he’s well, don’t sin anymore so nothing worse happens. Jesus isn’t promising more disease as punishment, but making a central point. Sin isn’t unlawfulness to be punished…sin is disconnection itself. The man is physically healed, but more importantly has been given a chance for new relationship. Will he take it? Will we?


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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.

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.


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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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