Joy Can Surprise Us

by Pastor Linda Skinner

What did you do this week?  I love all the stories of how people are coping with snow, ice, power outages, etc.  Seems that the people who are making the most of this week are the ones who look for ways to make the most of the situation rather than bemoaning the unfortunate circumstances they are facing.  Don’t get me wrong, I think we have all experienced a little bemoaning, especially if you lost power, slipped on ice, had trees fall on your house, or got stuck in a snow drift.  However, it’s heartwarming to hear the stories of neighbors and friends helping one another.  People enjoying the simpler things of life – making snow angels; neighborhood snowball fights; hot coco in front of the fire; a good book; family time; even community sidewalk shoveling.  So many stories of people finding joy in the midst of the storm.

 I’m reminded of the Psalmists words in Psalm 30:

 4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones:
And give thanks to his holy name.

5 For his anger is but for a moment;
His favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
But joy comes with the morning.

 This Sunday Dr. Marty Folsom will be sharing the message on Does It Spark Joy? -- exploring how often we are “Surprised by Joy.”  Please join us for a great weekend of worship and celebration.

 May the Joy of the Lord sustain you through whatever storm you are facing.

Pastor Linda

 (As I am writing this devotion on Thursday morning, the weather reports are looking promising for a rainy weekend, so we are planning on having all our services – Saturday night at 5:30, Pastor Michael will be sharing the message on “Surprised by Joy.”  Sunday at 9:30 and 11:00 am, Dr. Marty Folsom will be sharing.  In case you are still stuck inside this Sunday, our 11:00 Service will be broadcast on Facebook Live.  You can reach the broadcast by going to the Washington Cathedral Facebook Page.)


Authentic Joy

by Pastor Tim White

Does it spark joy? What a great question. One of my heroes is Earl Palmer. I just love his Biblical exposition and his love of C.S. Lewis. I used to look for opportunities to go to a conference to hear him speak when he was at Berkley. And when he was at University Presbyterian Church, we had the privilege of having him preach for me at our church.

Earl Palmer said, "Joy is the evidence of Christian maturity not only in the easy moments of life but in the tough times also.”

Last week we heard from Pastor Linda that “joy” is mentioned 545 times in the Bible. That is astounding! But equally astounding is that the Bible also addresses our sorrows and hurts in such an honest fashion. “Jesus wept” is such an important verse because it shows God wants to be honest with us. And how many Psalms discuss life as being in the pits. But as honest as the Bible allows us to be about our hurts, discouragements, and insecurities, it is equally astounding how it calls us to joy.

If I had two prayers for Washington Cathedral this year it would be first, that every member would see themselves as a disciple and a discipler bringing a new hunger for the Word of God and fellowship with the Spirit of God. And that we would all take seriously our “Life Mission.” Let me tell you what a big part your life mission plays. Part of your “Life Mission” is to help those you love to grow deeper in authentic faith. I see every person sitting in each of our services as the tip of the ice berg. You all influence or can influence so many people. You must start where they are at and plant seeds, knowing that some will sprout, and others won’t. But isn’t that the picture of life that Jesus gave us in the Parable of the Sower? When I die, I want each one of my children and grandchildren, neighbors, friends, enemies and people I hardly know to see a spark of joy in me that points them to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ. I cast a wide net. I include atheists, agnostics, charismatics and Bible Baptists, Catholics and Orthodox, those who are spiritual giants and spiritually shallow. I want to influence them all for Jesus Christ.

My second prayer is that our church will be more joyful, more celebratory. That every Small Group and Ministry will represent deep friendship and joy. I think that is the inside track to opening hardened or weary hearts to a fresh work by God. Won’t you join me as we study the revolutionary message of Philemon and what God’s message has to say about authentic joy?

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Pure Joy

by Pastor Linda Skinner

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” James 1:2

I often thought that James was a bit callous when I read this scripture. Does he really think we can find “Joy” in our troubles? As usual, I was forgetting two important principles. First and foremost, never take one verse of Scripture out of context and try to make sense of it. James finishes his thought in the rest of the verses:

…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4

Maybe James is not suggesting that we find joy in our trails, maybe he is suggesting we find joy in the growth we experience from our trials. When I’m working out, I have to say I really don’t find “joy” in the sweating and soreness. However, I do find “joy” when the doctor tells me my heart is healthy and my jeans still fit.

Second, maybe my definition of “joy” needs some tweaking. What is “joy” anyway? God’s Word has some very specific things to say to us on these topics. This week I have the joy of sharing with you what I’ve been learning about the topic of “joy” from God’s Word. I invite you to join me in this exploration as we kick off a month-long series “Does It Spark Joy?”

The Super Bowl will be much more enjoyable because you’ve spent time in worship this weekend.

Have a blessed day,

Pastor Linda


by Pastor Tim White

I love the painting by Tissot (1862) illustrating the dramatic story that Jesus told about the Father (representing God the Father) waiting in front of the farm house for his son to return. The son decides to come home and when his dad spots him, he runs and gives him a hug and places a ring on his finger and a cloak over his shoulders. Wow what a powerful picture!

Recently I read in a business journal how to win back customers you have lost. It takes a long time to win a new customer and that is how businesses have traditionally been built. And churches have been the first to proclaim that it is more trouble than it is worth to try reaching customers who have quit for some reason. Rick Warren, who was my friend when we both were first starting out, made a big point of this in his Early Purpose Driven Church Seminars. But times have changed. It is no longer a battle over what kind of music we are going to play or power-plays within the church. We are an established church and we love people. I can’t think of one negative thought that I have had about anyone who has ever attended our church. Maybe my memory is bad or maybe I’ve inherited my Grandpa White’s personality, but it’s true. I have good feelings for everyone who ever helped in this beautiful dream of Building a Great Caring Network. I can tell many stories of the heroes God has used to save the day for Washington Cathedral. So, I have been praying that some of those heroic families will return. Life is too short to not see each other. And lately more and more people have been stopping by to say “Hi” as we reaffirm our love and friendship. One person pulled me over and, with tears in his eyes, said, “my wife and I will never forget that this is the place that we found Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.” And I said, “I know you live a distance away but let’s get together more frequently.”

Yes, new families are coming. Most of them have young with children. But when old friends come back, that is truly a treasure. God is restoring this church and continuing to build a place that has an ongoing voice in this community. And it is going to happen before I go to be with the Lord - well I am already with the Lord, but you know what I mean.

Coming back from my illnesses at the young age of 63 - I believe in comebacks. They are not easy, but they are dramatic. And God has good things ahead for us. This week I am concluding our series on Growing in Trust of our God with the 4th reason to trust God. First, was “Because it is Biblical.” Second, was “That it is Practical.” Third, was “That it is Beautiful to Trust the Dream” by remembering that our imperfect dreams point to God who is behind them. And this week my title is “Smart Trust.” The title is taken from Stephen Covey’s book entitled Smart Trust and a second book entitled The Speed of Trust. In them he is showing how necessary healthy trust is in building a successful life. You don’t have to turn off your radar or your skepticism to be emboldened by healthy trust. Join us or rejoin us this weekend because we are in the inspiration business.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim

Trusting God is Practical

By Pastor Tim White

Becoming more trusting of God is practical….

Winters are long in Washington State as we are one of the northernmost states in the United States lower 48 – that means Alaska doesn’t count, of course. We have our benefits. We can see the Northern Lights driving to Bellingham. We are close to Canada with some of the best people in all the world and a wonderful place to vacation. And we are surrounded by majestic mountains and lakes. Seattle is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and, as my friend Brian Wilson loves to remind me, snow is a good thing. He loves to snow-board as do many others in our church. Jackie and I lived in Pasadena, California and how we missed the four seasons. When it is cold and rainy outside it is the perfect occasion to read a book and we are one of the top cities in the world for reading. When you take a walk in the rain it is fun to bundle up and brave the elements and enjoy nature in the fury of a storm. But with all these positives I want to remind you that springtime is coming.

Yes, springtime is invincible. It will defeat winter sooner or later. And you know I am right because you have seen this happen time after time after time. Remember when there were 90 days of unrelenting rain a few years back? Still, winter was defeated by the springtime. The days grew longer, the flowers blossomed, and the birds returned. Springtime burst forth in all of it majesty. Do you trust that Spring is coming?

Well, what if I told you that belief in Spring is very practical for those who are braving the winter? Of course, that makes perfect sense. And so, it is with your faith in God. Optimism and positive faith are not mere luxuries of choice. Our very lives depend on them. A person without hope can never be at his or her best. The great Jewish Psychiatrist Victor Frankl and founder of Logotherapy taught this. His ideas were formed by his experience of surviving the Nazi concentration camps. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, he demonstrates how we can’t live without meaning and hope.

Trust is practical and this week we will learn how to grow deeper in the Lord by living a practical trust-filled life.

Your Friend for the Rest of My Life,

Pastor Tim White

Remembering and Forgetting

We forget what we should remember, and we remember what we should forget.

That was a statement made last weekend when we looked at the First Step to Trust. Nahum 1:7 was the old prophet’s last challenge to the Neo Assyrian Empire just before they fell. When he, like Jonah had a generation previous, implored the greatest city of that time period, Nineveh, to trust God. And he added the radical, revolutionary idea that “God is good!” Also, the idea that “God knows who trusts him!” So, if we trust God and experience the forgiveness and boldness that only he who created us and can recreate us will provide, then we can focus on what we should remember and let go of those hurts that we should forget.

This week we move on to Step Two in our journey of moving deeper in trusting God. How do we specifically develop a strategy to trust him more? Does the Bible have anything to say about this? Yes, it does. And I want to spend 20 minutes this weekend inspiring you to learn, change and grow in your capacity to trust. Boy do I need to hear my own sermon this week! I think I will be there because I can’t wait to find out what I am going to say. Will you join me?

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim

I Will Trust You

by Pastor Tim White

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3.

There is so much in the Bible about trust that we forget sometimes how essential it is to our lives. What if you never learned to trust? Can you imagine a baby who is so afraid that they will not trust their parents to feed, clothe, protect and direct them? They would be afraid to crawl, afraid to walk, afraid to drink, afraid to eat, afraid to be snuggled, afraid to sleep, afraid to laugh, afraid of the pets, afraid of everything. Don’t you agree with me that it is impossible to really live without trust.

As I was watching the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, I was feeling discouraged during the first half. So, I found a prayer that resonated with my heart for 2019.

Dear God, I surrender 2019 to you. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be,
and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.

As the game progressed to the fourth quarter and the Huskies had a miraculous chance for a comeback win, I found myself wanting to write a new prayer for 2019.

Dear God, I surrender 2019 to you. Just let the Huskies recover an onside kick and win this game.

Distracted, and I am not even through the first day of the new year! We all know we need to trust but we need get back to basics if we are going to overcome stress, fatigue, misdirection, and lack of mountain-moving faith. So, we are starting into a short new series for January. The sermon’s will only be 20 minutes long. And the one on Saturday night during the Seahawks game will probably be shorter.

The series is about Four Simple Steps to Trust. How does the Bible teach us to become trusting individuals in this dangerous world where those who trust get scammed? How do we learn or relearn healthy, saving trust in God? Join me this weekend and we will all learn something essential about real living by moving forward in our capacity to trust God.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

New Beginnings Every Day

by Pastor Linda Skinner

What an amazing Christmas we had at Washington Cathedral. I don’t like to do reviews of worship services, but so many people told me how much they enjoyed the message, the music and the friendliness of our church. Crackles the camel was a huge hit and children of all ages enjoyed the camel rides. Santa and Mrs. Claus were busy posing with families for pictures at the Santa booth. The sheep, chickens and goats put on a great show. Cookies and hot cider were devoured with great enthusiasm by all. At 1:30 am when Rich & I drove home to our wonderfully comfortable bed, the moon shone through the clouds and we had to sing “O Come All Ye Faithful” along with the radio in the car.

I woke up Christmas morning still feeling a bit tired, but also looking forward to the day. It was Christmas morning, but more importantly it was a new day. I was reminded of what the prophet Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” God is faithful, and his love is greater than any stresses we have before us. We may be tired, but in him we find rest. Like the moon shining through the clouds in the wee hours of Christmas morning, God’s love shines through our lives.

This weekend we have some great services to help us celebrate the coming New Year. Pastor Josh has a great message entitled “Press the Red Button”. Learn how God helps us reset our lives not only in the New Year, but every day. Two of my favorite musicians, Carolee Mayne and her husband, Robert Watson, are here from L.A. to lead us in worship on Sunday. Pastor David is preparing another delicious breakfast.

Looking forward to celebrating with you this weekend.

Happy New Year and God’s Richest Blessings on your 2019,

Pastor Linda

A Special Gift at Christmas

by Pastor Tim White

Give yourself a very special gift this Christmas. This is it - the most wonderful time of the year. And my prayer for you is that God will encourage, inspire and give all the joy that each of us dream of for our Christmas.

Christmas Lights the Night - Sunday at 4pm (we will be done by 5pm so you have time to catch the Seahawks vs Kansas City Game.) Monday - Christmas Eve - at 3pm, 5pm and 11 pm. This will be our best Christmas celebration, having had 24 years of practice. Please - Please - Please bring your friends it could mean all the world to them.

The church is stunning all covered in Christmas lights. There will be shuttle service for those parking up the hill who don’t want to take a step into the cold. Tickets are complimentary, and you can get them online, at the church, or at Will Call as you arrive at church. The manger scene will have real live animals, Mary and Joseph, even a sheep being herded by its shepherd. Wise Men from the East will walk through the sanctuary as I tell the story to all the kids who can come up front and check it all out. We even have a real camel this year with free camel rides before and after the services. The choirs are just “wow!” - that is all I can say. They will fill your soul with the sparkling blessing of Christmas. And Eliot and the praise band will fill the house with rejoicing – helping remember that that everyone is family at Christmas. It’s great to see some of the kids home from college to join in this loving praise band. Frosty and Rudolf will be there before and after the service to greet the kids. And to top things off, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be at the Photo Booth so you can have a photo taken to bless you and your family.

Of course, our regular services this weekend have some special elements of celebration. Dr. Marty Folsom has prepared a very special message entitled —The Miracle Light of Christmas Quietness. With all the noise of Christmas, this worship service will be just what we need to prepare us to experience Christmas first hand. Saturday night at the 5:30 service our own Eliot will be leading us in Christmas worship. On Sunday morning at 9:30 am and 11:00 am our special guest is Dave Irish, one of the favorite Christian musicians in the Seattle area. In addition, Pastor David is going to fix breakfast for the Happy Hour in-between the two morning services and soup and sandwiches for the Saturday night service. Either way, this truly is a church family experience that will be a real blessing.

There has never been a more important year in the history of our church. We need your attendance at these vital services as we take a giant leap to renew our church. So again, I asked you to come to a Christmas service and bring a friend.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

The Miracle of a Precious Family

by Pastor Tim White

The picture of the rugged carpenter leading his nine-month pregnant wife, Mary, on a burro 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem is a picture that the greatest romantics have never been able to fully capture in all their paintings, songs, and poetry. There must have been a mass traffic jam since Caesar had ordered a census of the entire Roman world forcing people to return to their hometowns to be counted. The frantic nature and events of traffic jams are something we can all relate to today. And I am sure that the thieves were out in mass and as thick as thieves.

Can I use that metaphor of thieves? Just like today, the scammers come out of the woodwork at Christmas. I was thinking of getting a voicemail installed that says – “If you are a deposed president of a small country and you need to give me $20 million - press one; if you are the IRS and you need a check mailed to you - please press two; if you are stranded in a city and need me to send you $2,000 - press three, if you are informing me I have won a free vacation - please press four.” And then after they press their number give a similar list with different numbers. And after all that a message mail that says, “I totally believe you so if you will leave your home phone number, and your social security card number I will get right back to you.”

I can imagine Joseph avoiding people, muggers and thieves while also steering clear of detachments of Roman soldiers. I suspect they probably met a lot of good people in the land of Israel, just as you would today. People who would befriend them as they too made their own perilous journey. Maybe a little drummer boy or two – encounters and stories that no one will ever hear until we get to heaven?

The Christmas story is the story of a family. Fragile, like many families today, escaping rumors from Nazareth, and at the mercy of a merciless King Herod. So many miracles as this holy family is protected, directed, and selected to experience miracle after miracle. As your pastor I pray that you will experience the miracle of a precious family this Christmas.

There was a gentleman who had more than his share of questions about faith in Jesus Christ. He had an amazing story and spoke with a proper British accent. I would spend hours talking to him. He would always show up at holiday time because he was so lonely for a precious family. One day I was playing golf with a member of our church who was a high-level executive from AT&T. This guy is one of the nicest guys you would every meet. (I meet a lot of nice people.) He was mentioning to me that every Christmas that he and his beautiful family have this gentleman over for Christmas. Wow, I thought this is an answer to so many prayers. Then later I was talking to his friend who was a Vice President for AT&T. I had asked him to help me understand my phone and he was laughing saying “that he did not do that during golf games or any other time.” He mentioned that he knew my British friend also. I said, “This is amazing! How do you know him?” And he went on to tell me “that he was always the guest of our friend at their company Christmas parties.” God does amazing things to put people in precious families. I pray that after this week’s sermon your family will miraculously become even more precious to you as a light of Christmas.

This weekend you will learn Biblical principles to: (1) Give you a higher perspective on family challenges. (2) Practical ideas to bringing peace where once there was tension. (3) Strategies to move tangibly closer to your loved ones.

Don’t miss it - because you will be blessed.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White