Build A Vineyard

by Pastor Tim White

Have you ever seen a farmer who is launching his first vineyard? It is an exciting endeavor. All over Eastern Washington, where I grew up, there are beautiful wine and grape juice vineyards being pioneered. And this has been going on for 40 years. I remember performing a wedding at a vineyard which, at that time, was one of the largest wine vineyards in Eastern Washington. It was for the daughter of the entrepreneur farmer who was launching this endeavor - and it was beautiful! That was long before I moved to start Washington Cathedral and since that time Yakima through Walla Walla has become a new wine country. And these great vineyards have been a blessing for our whole state!

As you know the ancient world was completely dependent on the wine and olive oil business. Wine because it was one of the few safe liquids to drink. And olive oil because later she would become “Popeye the sailor man’s” girlfriend. (That is a joke in case you didn’t catch it or don’t know who Popeye the sailor man was). In the hundreds of hours, I spent studying ancient history I can’t tell you the percentage of time we spent studying pottery which was the main storage utensil used to transport these two necessary items. At one time, I could distinguish with some degree of accuracy, Late Bronze Age Greek pottery from Middle Bronze Age Egyptian pottery.

Jesus used the language of wine and vineyards to describe his secret plan to change the world by showing a love that people could not resist and aiming it at having an exponential impact. In other words, instead of adding by addition, it is growing by multiplication. Each vine attached and pruned is set to duplicate itself and to grow a great fruit-bearing vineyard.

I love our Tiny Little Church which meets in Snohomish (just off Highway 9) at 7:00 Tuesday night. The friends in the group are some of the most caring, down-to-earth people that you would find anywhere. And we have fun together. In the last two weeks we have had a new person visit our group each week. What if someday those people become so fruitful that they themselves start a Tiny Little Church which has a world-changing Good Samaritan project in our community. What if they help the people they know to find their faith and gifts and some of those people go on to start new vineyards. That is exponential growth for a church that is not dependent on buildings, property or any other change in the wind.

This Sunday I am going to be sharing the Agape words used in John 15. I know we referred to this passage when we first started studying Agape in Matthew, but we never really dove into it the way we will this week. And the goal is to teach you to build a prosperous vineyard in your life with your neighbors, spouse, children, grandchildren, employees, employers and friends. It is Jesus’ secret plan to change the world. And I will be so blessed if you join us this week for this very inspirational event. In fact, I can say that God will be blessed by future world-changers taking time to huddle together and getting inspired about building vineyards.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

The End of the Old and the Beginning of the New

by Pastor Tim White

That is what “Agape,” God’s kind of love, represents. Last Sunday was a great day. Right after our 11 AM worship we headed out with all the kids and their parents to travel up, around, down and through the beautiful Sammamish valley to my secret fishing hole set back in the woods. And if you want specific directions it is just south of Canada, just West of Idaho, just north of Oregon and just east of the Pacific Ocean. In other words, it is somewhere in Washington. As I approached the keeper of my secret fishing hole, he said, "get your group around so I can go over the rules." A mass of kids and parents surrounded the kindly man and his wife. He pointed at me and said, “whoever this is - your grandpa, uncle, dad, pastor or friend he will be helping you.” I was massed by a joyful onslaught of sharp young parents, cute kids full of mischief, and trout being caught by tiny ones who didn’t need any lessons - they just needed someone to take the fish off the end of the hook. Many of the kids and young families I was just getting to know. One of the kids came up to me and said, “you smell like fish.” It was a delightful day (although I think I still smell like fish) and what a joy to get to know so many young families in our church.

This week as we study the word “Agape” through the New Testament. We are learning to be very intentional about how we impact the lives of the people God has positioned us near and we are looking for an action step. After studying God’s Love (“Agape” in the Greek), I wanted to name this message “Love is a Verb.” I looked that title up and there must be a 100 books and essays with the same title. Jackie tells me there is a DC Talk song called “Love is a Verb.” (But I wouldn’t know because I am too young to know that group.) But in studying the context of “Agape” in all the Gospels I like the idea of the “End of the Old and the Beginning of the New.” It matches the force of Jesus’ message in the gospels.

We kicked off our Small Groups this week and it was great to see all the new people trying out the Tender Loving Care groups. The discussion in my Diamonds in the Rough TLC was insightful to me. The main point being it is easier to say “love your neighbor” than it is to actually love your neighbor. What a resource our church family is when we look at a revolutionary concept like this. Our church was founded on Showing People a Love They Cannot Resist. Now how do we do it better? After all these years and all the experts God has placed in our congregation, we really should be able to put together a new and improved strategy on loving the people in our lives.

Please join me this weekend. Your attendance really makes a difference.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Kickoff!!!

By Pastor Tim White

It’s a brand-new Fall season. The kids are excited to go back to school. New sports are beginning. Leaves are changing color and people are starting to wear jackets. It is Autumn 2018, and we are preparing for the greatest year in the history of Washington Cathedral. I love my life-long friends at our church home. And I would not trade places with any other pastor at any other time than to be here, right now, and ready to tackle the next adventure facing us as a church.

We are out to spread the revolution of Jesus Christ’s love and grace. Jesus said, I am the vine and you are the branches and any branch that remains in him will bear good fruit. When Jackie and I met with Pope Francis’ Ambassador, Dr. Carlos Avila, he shared with us that this was going to be the strategy of the Roman Catholic Church to change the world. To motivate their people to befriend as many people as possible and build a life-long relationship with them using the power of God to help them take another step on their spiritual journey.

How intentional are you about pouring your life into your children, your neighbors, your in-laws, the people you work next to, or play sports with? Well, get ready to kick things into gear for a great adventure and really getting some traction. Together we are studying Agape in the New Testament. This week, we look at Matthew where Jesus tells us that God’s love teaches us to view everyone as a neighbor - even our enemies. And how we are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Some churches, such as the Friends Church, call everyone their friend because of Jesus Christ. I like that. But we are also supposed to treat everyone as our neighbor. The music will be better than ever. There is a barbecue in between services. Jackie and I are taking all the kids in the church to my secret fishing hole, the trout farm. It is going to be a brand-new beginning. Won’t you join us?

Your neighbor for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

P.S. I have a dream of how we, as a church, can double in growth this year 2018-2019. Come hear this exciting dream from its beginning.

Generation Blessing

by Pastor Tim White

Every once in a while, you will hear professional sports stars talking about generational wealth. A typical scenario is when they are combating for a one hundred million-dollar contract over several years. They realize that this could impact not only their life but their family for generations. Well the Bible has a lot to say about generational blessings. And it is more astounding than generational wealth. It points to an individual whose faith is going to impact generations, despite conquests, their family being spread around the world or even despite some of the worst tragedies.

We have been studying the Mission Statement of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 61. Last week we looked at the ministry of Jesus to those of us who grieve. And that is something we all experience at some point. The last part of Isaiah 61 points to the resilient power of intentionally loving the surrounding generations. This includes investing our lives in an intentional manner with family, disciples from our faith community, as well as our neighbors and friends. They will prosper against all odds in their invincible faith.

For me this means so much. Last Sunday after church I had the privilege to meet with a young man who grew up in our church. He now lives in northern Idaho and wanted to introduce me to his fiancé, a very fine Veterinarian. This was a beautiful young couple, and we laughed and shared while watching the Seahawks game. I told his fiancé how much this young man and his family meant to me. He had served in Afghanistan leading a squad with Special Forces. In two years’ time, this young, handsome man used a leadership style to really love and invest in the men he was chosen to lead. In two years of combat he was promoted to an E-5. He essentially was the Squad Leader as they fought on the front lines against the terrorists in Afghanistan. In the picture of him and his squad he looked like a clean-cut high school kid leading these bearded, rough, Special Forces guys in the thick of the most dangerous fighting you can imagine. He told me that everything he learned told him to invest in knowing his troops and their families and he was inspired to promise that he was going to make it home with every one of his men alive. And they made it. A few are amputees, but he said they are still a group of incredibly close friends who still tease each other and help each other. The couple told me, “Pastor Tim we can’t imagine anyone else performing our marriage ceremony other than you.” Well, that is one of the highest encouragements in my life.

Later Jackie and I went to dinner at our good friends David and Rosanna Fox. We laughed and enjoyed a good, healthy meal together. Afterwards we got out the board games and played with these good friends and their son Fernando. (Andres is away at College.) As we played, I thought how much this family means to me. Not only to pray for them almost constantly, but Fernando is the one who comes up to me almost every week to have a long conversation and to encourage me. He is a brilliant young man and we enjoy talking about geography and many other subjects. Oh, how I pray that I will be a good pastor to Fernando and Andres, pouring my life into them that they may be all that they can be! That is what Isaiah 61 is talking about and that is what this troubled world and we all need to hear. How do we intentionally pour out our lives into those we are given to in friendship? Please join me this weekend - you will be blessed.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Do you need inspiration?

by Pastor Tim White

What is the most profound emotion humans ever experience?

In the book, “A Grief Observed” C.S. Lewis points to grief as one of the most profound emotions that human beings ever experience. That means you and I will all experience grief to a greater or lesser degree during our lives. It can be devastating, immobilizing and if we bury it instead of going through it in a healthy way, it can be permanently debilitating. You and I can’t just skip grief; we all are going to go through it at one time or another. And interesting enough, Jesus made this part of his mission statement in Isaiah 61 - to comfort those who grieve. We all have the inclination to ruminate on our hurts. To think about the why’s, what if’s, where for’s, would-have’s, could-have’s and should have’s, is an experience that we have all been trapped in at one time or another. We grieve the loss of our youth, our children growing up, mistakes of our lives and so many more events in an imperfect life.

If we are going to have victory over anxiety and stress, then we need to deal with the angst of our pasts in a healthy, God-like way. Let’s learn from Jesus this week. I believe this will be a major breakthrough for those who can make it this weekend to worship at Washington Cathedral.

Do you need inspiration? Could you do with some personalized encouragement from God himself? Do you need inspiration that will lift you to face your challenges this next week to live at your very best? I think this message will touch your heart and challenge your brain. Please join me.

Let me share with you a joyful experience that good old St. Irenaeus would call a Fully Alive moment.

Carlos Avila was a fine scholar who was the President of the most prestigious university in Honduras. He married a beautiful biology professor and they had two amazing children. Their daughter Pamela grew up to go to the University of Texas and get her graduate degree in business and then to go to work as an executive for Amazon. Their son, also named Carlos, followed his mother’s love for biology. He went to medical school where he would specialize in pediatric oncology. One day Carlos Sr. got a call from the then new Latin American Pope Francis. Pope Francis asked him to stop his career in education and to come to work for him in the Vatican as his ambassador. They were so honored that he and his wife gave up their education mission to join the Pope Francis team. They said it was hard to leave their beloved Honduras and to move to Rome. In fact, at one of the meals with another papal ambassador from Japan, he complained that now that he lived and worked in Rome all his clothes were not fitting any more. The ambassador from Japan said, 'oh didn’t anyone tell you - pasta shrinks clothes.”

Last week Jackie and I enjoyed a family-style dinner with Carlos Sr., his wife and with Carlos Jr., and his sister Pamela. Each person shared how excited they were to be used by God in their place. Jackie and I got to share about the kick-off of our new series starting in October called “Life Vines,” and about how excited we are for our congregation to learn how to help those we care about in their relationship journey with Christ. Helping us all to be more effective in pointing our children, our grandchildren, our neighbors and friends to move one step closer to Christ. Ambassador Carlos lit up as he said, “that is going to be the plan this year for the Catholic Church. We are learning to maximize our relationships to honor Jesus Christ.” He went on to tell us about what a joy it is to work for Pope Francis. He told us how personable he is, how he hugs you, pats your hand, and really cares that he is your friend. I thought this a perfect example of where God is leading our church. I have never been more excited to be alive than I am now. Five years ago, I prayed with a young doctor on a flight back from Honduras that he could have a personalized relationship with Jesus Christ that would make him a better Catholic. He went on to be a pediatric oncologist as well as lead multiple medical brigades to the street kids we support in Honduras, and now we met his family who treated us like family. God is good! We enjoyed this wonderful evening of excitement about the good things God has ahead for us!

May God bless you mightily this next week,

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

There is Hope

by Pastor Tim White

When it comes to anxiety and worry — we all have experience. Some may develop ulcers, high blood pressure, panic attacks, lack of confidence, paralyzing fear of crowds or failure. Some may develop depression, phobias, compulsive behavior, or so many other manifestations of fear.

The good news is — there is hope. That is the message of Jesus Christ. He is not going to leave this age of anxiety unchallenged. The Bible is full of references to fear, anxiety and worry. And in each of those hundreds of references it frames a practical trusting response plan. We have so much available to help us and modern medicine can be a part of the solution.

Last week I began a four-week series based on our church’s life verse, Isaiah 61. (Which is the life verse of Jesus.) We started with the first four verses of Isaiah 61, taking a lesson from Jesus on not trying too hard or too little.

This week we move to the verses at the end of chapter. In these verses we see how finding our God-designed identity can set us free from self-criticism or the hurtful words of our peers. Please join me for this insightful message.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Anxious? There’s hope!

by Pastor Tim White

There is a place where no one is anxious.  Really, this isn’t a joke.  Well, a little bit of a joke. When we think of anxiety-free zones we think of Shangri-La, “The Land that Time Forgot” (oh that one doesn’t work), Disneyland, Hawaii, or Jamaica (where they don’t worry, they’re just happy).  But really there is only one place -- it is the city cemetery.  That was one of my friends, Norman Vincent Peale’s, favorite jokes.  Now he is in the cemetery (well, really, he is in heaven).  But his message was “If you are alive there is always some stress.”  Minimizing that stress, using it as motivation and the ability to rest from it is what is important for our survival.  

Yes, I know I preach about peace all the time.  But sometimes, I am anxious.  The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice”.  As everyone knows, Jackie and I are moving to a new house somewhere in the area, after living in our beloved home for 34 years.  Man, we were really stressing it.  We were assured by our friend Debbie Walter, who has been such a great Real Estate agent through this process, that we could do it.  But moving out in just a short time was almost impossible.  We had so much help from our friends and neighbors.  But the coup de gras was Sunday after church.  Rob McJunkin asked me if we needed any help and I said, “No, Rob, you have a bad back and we don’t want any of our friends to have to work on this beautiful Labor Day weekend”.  Well, when I pulled up to our house after driving to our daughter and son-in-law’s house to change clothes, I could not believe my eyes. There were so many people there, I could barely find a parking place to get to our house.  I have to admit, my eyes watered profusely, but it was probably just my allergies.  It was a tear-jerking miracle. 

This is just another example of how God wants to share our deepest insecurities, worries and fatigue.  This week’s study is the launch of a new series, “Hope, When There is No Room to Hope,” on the mission statement of Jesus Christ, which can be found in Isaiah 61. It was put another way in Philippians 4, when the apostle Paul says for us not to worry, but to rejoice in the Lord. Pray about everything, yet we don’t always do it.  Why?  And what can we do about this problem that is rocking the foundation of many of us and preventing us from being the people that we were meant to be?  Yes, I am one who does too much worrying.  Anxieties get the best of me.  I know that is shocking to you, but I am trusting God for a miracle in my life.  Won’t you come this weekend and experience the miracle with me?

Rise Up

by Pastor Tim White

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

It is always inspiring to see what God can do for those people who believe what God tells us in His Word and apply it to their lives despite whatever curve’s life has thrown at them.  We’ve had so many of those people as part of our community at Washington Cathedral.  I think sometimes we lose our appreciation and sense of wonder at what God is doing in our lives.  It often takes someone reminding us of what God can help us overcome when we put our faith and trust in Him.

This Sunday at Washington Cathedral we have the privilege of once again being reminded of God’s amazing power in our lives.  Our special guest speaker is Sam Kuhnert.  See the 3 minute video clip below.  It will give you a short preview of what you can expect to hear from Sam. 

We are looking forward to hearing what God has to say to us through Sam this Sunday at 9 am and 11 am.  Pastor David is preparing a delicious Labor Day weekend barbeque for our Happy Hour from 10-11 am and again at 12 noon. 
 

Fresh Wind - Fresh Fire

By Pastor Tim

- that is my message this weekend as we study together the life of Elijah.  We are excited about God’s word here at Washington Cathedral.  And it has been a great summer of hearing stories every week which are changing our lives.  The great scholar Alister McGrath wrote the book “Christianity's Most Dangerous Idea.”  This great Cambridge philosopher and theologian, who Dr. Vath compared to a modern day C.S. Lewis, points out one of the principle points of the reformation … is that the Bible is for Children.  Young, would-be scholars would often want to say you have to be an expert to interpret the Bible.  That it is so complex that you should not try and read it alone.  And by any means, don’t let children read it.  But I have learned, even after two doctorates and years of being a professor at a number of institutions, that kids are often the best Bible scholars.  That is why Jesus said, Suffer the little children to come to me and forbid them not for such is the kingdom of heaven.

Our church has always believed that the Bible is for children.  And it amazes me to see the incredible scholars who grow up in this church who go on to lead in their fields when they get their degrees.  I can’t see why any parent would not do everything in their power to keep their children in a great caring network where they are helping the poorest of the poor and feeling such joy and humility in doing so. 

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets in history.  He was brave, and he also had moments of depression and fear.  And God refreshes him.  In fact, this story lays out God’s plan to refresh his servants.  So many have heard this message throughout their life, but they have such attention deficit disorder that they can’t learn the lesson.  But kids get it. That is why Judaism makes their young people Biblically literate.  They learn Hebrew, they memorize Psalms 119.  They are steeped in the complexities of the Bible.  And then they have a celebration as a 13-year-old to declare that they are a man or a woman.  And did you know that the religion with the top genius ranking is Judaism? 

Maybe the fact that we have held tenaciously to a belief that the Bible is for kids is the reason so many of our kids grow up to be top scholars.  Every time I teach the kids - they teach me.  Malachi used to spend long periods checking in with me at the door. Now it is Fernando, and he too is a deep thinker and encourages me with his kindness and willingness to learn.  And his feedback teaches me.

Yes, the Bible is a book for children.  That is one of the most important stories I have learned in 44 years of ordained ministry.  Our world today is cursed with shallow Christianity whose main source is pop culture.  And if we are ever going to be rescued from that we are going to have to raise up a generation of young people who can handle the truth told with gentle, humble faith.  Authentic faith breeds authentic faith and that is what keeps us strong and continues to renew us.

Elijah could teach a seminar on listening to God.  He wrestled with bold faith and overwhelming fear in the pit of swirling depression.  And God renewed him with a simple, still small voice.  Won’t you join me this weekend and put your child-like self on, so that we can learn together some of the most complex truths by following Christianity’s most dangerous idea. We don’t need a pretentious scholar to interpret this for us, we need to hear, as a child, and let God do the work to form our character as he renews our hearts.

Your friend for the rest of my life,
Pastor Tim White

 

Not A Children's Book

by Josh Zappone

Many of us encounter the stories of Saul and David, Moses and Pharaoh, Adam and Eve, or Noah and the Ark as children or at least presented in a simplified form at least sometime in our lives. Would you call those stories personally life changing? 

When I read the story of Saul I think of the children’s books I read as a kid and the flannelgraph figures acting out stories. The Bible is full of stories that fill children with wonder, and it is amazing to see how kids pick out simple truths that cut deep into the truth of life. Kids, and in my context students, can teach us a lot about reading the Bible. The trouble is that biblical narratives (Bible stories) are deep and complex. They address issues and use complex literary devices that are beyond a child’s concrete thought processes. The stories are meant to be pondered, read and reread. Over time we start seeing themes emerging tying all the stories together and we begin to develop a biblical imagination.  The Bible is not a children’s book. 

For instance, the Bible rarely tells us details about appearance and when it does it is always significant (think Zacchaeus). When you read the story of Saul the author gives us a description of his looks, he is taller than all the Israelites and very handsome. Saul is a man a height and power, and yet when he is chosen as Israel’s leader by lot he is hiding among the baggage! Saul’s height points the reader to his arrogance and pride throughout the story. The picture of Saul is contrasted with David, who is also said to be handsome (and with beautiful eyes) and described to smaller in stature and a young man. David is portrayed as humble and obedient where Saul was disobedient and proud. The differences we see in Saul and David are especially apparent when Goliath comes on the scene. The tallest in all the land versus Saul’s army. Yet it is the youngest son of Jesse who takes him on after discarding Saul’s armor. 

In addition, the Bible also doesn’t typically present black and white characters, people who are either good or bad, but each person has a dimension of reality that presents the true struggles of the human condition. Children’s Bible story books leave a lot of that information out. In fact, if you grew up in Sunday school you might have adopted a very clear vision of Saul as the bad guy and David as the good guy. When we take time to meditate and ponder on the story we see that Saul was scared, he struggled with mental illness, he would never accept blame, he was insecure in his leadership position- many issues we find ourselves facing. Saul is not the “bad guy” in the story but he is a person, with flaws and choices that we all encounter. There is a depth to the Bible that I cannot adequately put into words here or even understand myself in a lifetime, but the challenge for you is to start exploring with an inquisitive mind and to learn about the depth of the Bible yourself. I am including a short video with this post that shares some of what I am trying to say. It is part of a series of videos that I think would make a great start for your discussions about the stories of the Bible and help you to understand the greatest stories ever told and how they form the greatest story ever told. 

The Bible wasn’t written to be a children’s story book. It was written for adults and for thinkers who would meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1, Joshua 1:8). The stories are meant to be contemplated and thoughtfully pondered, and then you will find new depths and find yourself in the characters and find truth for your own life.

To find more of these videos go to: thebibleproject.com