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

Comeback

by Pastor Tim White

Everyone needs a comeback sometime. We all will have that sacred opportunity to come back from a great challenge with the faith of God. My dad used to title his sermon on David and Goliath as “The Fist of Faith in the Face of Fear.” And it’s true. Don’t we all have a showdown with a giant sometime, or I should say several times, in life. That giant might be grief from great loss, a financial challenge for your family, or it might be a challenge at work. Often, there will be some bully whose power comes from fear. The life story of King David teaches us how to face those giants. More than once King David had to find his faith time after time. 

Don’t miss a great weekend worship this week as I share one of my favorite Bible storylines - the drama of King David’s life.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Women of Faith and Passion

by Pastor Linda Skinner

I am inspired by people who have deep faith and unshakeable passion.  Lately, I have been reading a lot about women who have ventured out into unbelievable situations and against all odds to do the impossible and bring glory to God in the process.  

Women like Corrie ten Boom, Hannah Whitall Smith, Henrietta Mears, Margaret Brand, on and on.  These ladies have inspired me through their writings for over 25 years. Contemporary women like Margaret Feinberg, Carolyn Curtis James, Tish Harrison Warren, Ruth Haley Barton and Shelia Walsh have filled my hours of inspirational reading. The thing that all these women have in common is an abiding love for Christ and a passion to honor him with whatever resources they are given.

Last week I had the privilege of preaching about one such woman of the Bible – Ruth. What a story.  This week Dr. Marty Folsom will be sharing about Samuel, the son of another one of my female Biblical heroines – Hanna.  

Hanna’s is a story of a woman struggling with childlessness and all the torment that brought to a woman of her time. The story of her struggle is found in 1 Samuel 1:1-2:10. Hanna went to the temple and prayed and “wept bitterly” for the Lord to give her a son.  She vowed that if her prayer was answered she would give her son back to the Lord to be used in His service.  Very soon God answered her prayer and she named her son Samuel which means “heard of God,” because God heard her prayer.  After Samuel was weaned, Hanna took and presented him to the priest Eli.  Her words to Eli revealed her heart for God: “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord.  I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the Lord.  For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”

Because of Hanna’s faith and passion for God, she not only was given a son, but she was given the blessing of watching her son change the world by serving the God she loved.

Join us this weekend and hear about Hanna’s son Samuel.  We look forward to seeing you and hope you will join us for some fellowship time before or after any of our services.  You might especially enjoy our Summer Happy Hour on Sunday’s from 10-11 am.

God richest blessings on your week,

Pastor Linda
 

Role Models

by Pastor Linda Skinner

From about age 4, I wanted to grow up and be a cow girl like Annie Oakley or Dale Evans.  They were my role models.  Of course, it was the Hollywood version of those two cowgirls.  Beside the fact that they rode their horses everywhere they went, I admired them for being strong, independent women who stood up for what was right and fearlessly protected their families and friends.  

Annie Oakley was actually my favorite.  When other girls were dressing up as princesses, I was dressing up like Annie Oakley and when I went riding on my trusty steed, Smokie, I would always wear my trusty cap gun in my holster just in case I encountered one of those nasty horse thieves on my ride.  When I went to school, I rode my steed down the street to school and tied him up at the fence (my mom would come get him and bring him back to the pasture and then he’d be back tied up when I got out of school).  Whenever I was asked, what are you going to be when you grow up, my answer was always...” I’m going to be a cowgirl like Annie Oakley.”

Later, I found a biography of the real Annie Oakley and, even though she was not like the Hollywood Annie I loved and emulated, she was a pretty amazing woman.  Born into extreme poverty and shuffled around from relative to relative, she learned to be self-sufficient.  She was a petite woman, 5 ft tall and 100 pounds, that had the title of being one of the best marksmen in the world.  She learned to shoot to provide for her family and herself.  Through a series of events that no one could every predict, she joined up with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show and became one of the big stars of that show that toured the world in the late 1800’s.  

Girls need those strong role models that show them they have gifts, talents and purpose in God’s Kingdom.  In short, they need to know that regardless of the circumstances they face, God is in their corner and he has a place for them.  Unbeknownst to me, I was learning that lesson from my childhood fictional heroes.  

This Sunday, while Pastor Tim is on vacation, I have the privilege of preaching about one of my grown up ancient female heroes of the Bible, Ruth.  The story of Ruth almost sounds like a Hollywood script about a woman who achieves greatness when all odds are against her. The story really is about the greatness of God and how when we listen and follow Him we can “Be a Difference Maker” in our world. Looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

Blessings,
Pastor Linda

PS:  Don’t forget to join us for Happy Hour 10-11am.  It is a great way to get to know the other amazing people of our church.  Pastor David has a great BBQ planned for this weekend at Happy Hour.  
 

The Strength of God!

by Pastor Tim White

This Summer is Sweet!

I love the summer time as a pastor.  Worship services seem to be extra special and the Spirit of God working is extra sweet.  And sitting in an air-conditioned sanctuary looking at our beautiful water-fall with great music and positive message is just uplifting.  I know attendance drops in the summer as people go on much needed vacations.  But also, more new people come who are looking for a church family to call home.  And I have noticed through the years that whether it is a small group or a youth ministry or a singles ministry event, on those weeks that attendance dips down something beautiful happens.  You get a chance to talk to people you normally might not have a chance to chat with before.  And God’s spirit is always up when we are down.  I could sense it last week as Pastor Michael was preaching for me (because I had a wedding) I was just blessed!  The happy-hour in between services really is fun.  People putting together puzzles, playing games and enjoying fellowship in the shade on a beautiful day. Yes, summers are tough for any non-profit to survive, but underneath it all God’s work is thriving not just surviving.

 This Weekend is Going to be Super!

 Please join me this week as I speak on the Strength of God.  If there was ever a time in history that we need strength of endurance, strength of character, strength to dream, strength of integrity, strength of purpose - it is today.   We need Godly strength in our lives, in our church, our nation and our world. And this week I will be telling the story of Samson – I think my story is better than the movie!  I have been practicing all my life for this week’s sermon.  You might even want to bring your kids or grandkids to see and experience this soulful story.  I have special effects ready to assist me.  And our staff is praying that there are going to be some strong people of faith that will emerge after this weekend.  So please join in.  Wouldn’t it be a great lift if attendance jumped up this week in July as we, as a church, wait to experience heroic, Godly strength from the very Spirit of God.  We will see you Saturday at 5:30pm, Sunday at 9am or 11am.  We need you.

 Let’s Rally as a Church Family this Weekend!

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

 

God is Good!

By Pastor Michael Fernandez

I think Gideon is a lot like me.  This is Pastor Michael and I have the privilege of bringing the message this week that is entitled “God is Good”.  Pastor Tim asked me to share the story of Gideon. What an exciting opportunity to share this saga of one of the greatest heroes in the Bible.  It was Gideon who became Judge over Israel and led the defeat of the mighty Midianites and Amalekites who were invading their land.  Gideon sets the pace as an inspired Special Forces leader and he was also an analyzer like me.  My degree at the University of Washington was in Electrical Engineering and I worked in that field for the first half of my life until Pastor Tim called me into ministry many years ago. 

The odds were impossible, so I guess anyone would be an analyzer.  Gideon was hiding out from this army just like the rest of Israel.  He was full of hesitancy at first, but finally just burst forth in bold action. He defiantly cut down the altar to Baal - which started a war. Gideon wanted to make sure that God was going to be on his side, so we have this story of him putting out a fleece just to make sure.  He knew the odds so, for those of us who tend to simmer over allaying situations, we find we can associate with Gideon; and that is the beauty of Bible stories.  We can see ourselves in some part of these real people’s lives.  Please join me as I share from my heart a message that is touching my soul.  It is an incredible upset by Gideon and his Special Forces, but it teaches us a lot about life. 

 

Get Ready Today is the Day!

By Pastor Tim White

 I love the story of Deborah - Judge of Israel.  Her words are inspiring.  At one point she says, “Get Ready Today is the Day!”  She is referring about throwing off bondage for the nation of Israel; but wouldn’t it be nice if we could throw off the bondage that holds us back?  It is going to happen someday.  When we go to heaven the old Christian saints used to call it “being glorified”.  We become everything we were meant to be.  I look forward to that day.  I will look something like “He Man” if you remember the cartoons from years ago.  And I will be such a nice guy without even trying; something like Mr. Rogers if you remember that old favorite.  I will be as much fun as Big Bird with a sense of humor like Ernie with Bert.  That is just my imagination but someday it’s going to be the day.  The day when strongholds come down. Strongholds which hold us back from being everything we are meant to be and want to be.

In Philippians 1:6 the Apostle Paul writes, “Be assured of this that he who began a good work in you will see it to completion.”  The other day Jackie and I had the privilege of attending Randy Halvorson’s 60th birthday party. He teased his family members and friends as they teased him, and he always had the last word.  He gave honor to Rod, his twin brother and my friend, who is waiting in heaven.  Randy is a very classy guy.  The family showed a video of Randy’s life with a picture of him as a boy walking by a pool with such athleticism it reminded me of his nephew Cody.  But he looked like he was up to some prank which reminded me of his brother Kent.  The video brought tears to all our eyes.  Randy is the longest living person with Duchenne muscular dystrophy; but that is just a footnote in the great person that Randy has become. During the tearful, funny video of Randy’s life I leaned over to Jackie and said, “I want to be just like Randy when I grow up.”  Well this weekend’s message just might be the day to take a giant stride into becoming the person God wants us to be - so get ready.

Your friend for the rest of my life

Pastor Tim

 

"When God starts testing you - He is about to start blessing you.”

By Pastor Tim White

It was the first day of practice.  The coach stopped practice. He came over and asked the quarterback if he could throw a 20 yard out and then he ordered the play called.  After the throw, he came into the huddle and showed another play with a difficult read on the defense and a deep route for the all-American wide receiver after coming off a double pick.  Well, picks are and always have been illegal, but everyone runs them anyway.  They call them “rub routes.” The quarterback took the snap and dropped back to complete the pass in practice just before being slammed into the ground by a behemoth defensive tackle.  The coach blew the whistle and gave everyone a break and had his assistant coach take the quarterback over to run a 40 for time.  Then he brought over the best player on the team, a defensive tackle, who would later play for the Houston Oilers.  He introduced the new quarterback to the huge lineman from inner city Washington D.C.  He told them “I want you to be friends, to work out together every day. I want you to take a long run at dawn and live in the weight room.”  The coach let practice continue as he and the strength coach took the young quarterback to the weight room to test bench press, squats, and a half dozen other lifts.  After all those tests the depth chart showed the new quarterback as the starting quarterback.  When you are getting tested by someone who wants you to succeed it’s because they are getting ready to bless you.  And it is the same way with God.

Are you being tested right now?  Does it seem like your life is going to require more faith and growth than you can pull off alone?  There is no easy way around it. 

This coming Sunday is going to have inspiring patriotic services followed by an hour and a half picnic and BBQ. There will be hamburgers and hotdogs with all the fixings.  There will be a DJ and dancing for our church family.  There will be bounce houses and all kinds of games.  And the Biblical message about reviving our nation entitled “It’s A Young Minded Thing.”  It’s the story of the generation that took the promised land and how their youth pastors - Joshua and Caleb led the way with youthful thinking that outdid any of the younger ones.   Colonel Erskine Austin, of the United States Marine Corp, will present our own Medal of Freedom to some unsuspecting hero in our congregation.  Please remember that the 4th of July is more than just another holiday. It is when we remember, as Christians do all over the world and have for 2,000 years, that we love our country.  Please join us this weekend as we celebrate God blessing America and asking for more blessings, so we can be more of a blessing.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Renewable Strength and Courage

by Pastor Tim White

Join me this weekend as I share about the Biblical concept of renewable strength and courage.  “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.”  Joshua 1:6

Do you know the story of Joshua - that he was an old man when he finally becomes leader of Israel? He was Moses’ most dependable friend. But the prospects were intimidating to do what God had assigned him.

I’m getting ready to complete the comeback in my health and hike through the mountains from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ll start this epic adventure May 2019. To get inspired I went out to watch a baseball game by the Seattle Monarchs. Most of their players are in their sixties and are still playing hard ball. My friend Rich Seiler, who graduated from the Naval Academy had played in the College World Series, today was playing short stop and closing pitcher. I was so inspired to see all these guys defying age and playing like they were kids. The Umpire came up to me in the seventh inning stretch and asked what I was doing there at 9:00 pm?  I told him I was a Pastor and part of my job was to get out in the community. We joked around about why I hadn’t started the wave at the game and how many times he had been hit. He told me 70 miles an hour still really hurts. Rich played a great game with a run scored and errorless fielding, even making a double play and 1-2-3 outs pitching in the ninth inning.  I was inspired by all these men, who at my age, still had a big kid in them.  That is what happened to Joshua and Caleb and can take place in all our lives if we will only let the story of Joshua touch our lives this weekend.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim
 

The Greatest Stories Ever Told

By Tim White

Once upon a time in the far away land of Honduras.  There lived a family of missionaries who lived one mile from the City Dump. There was a daddy missionary, a mommy missionary and a baby missionary.  Everywhere they went in the city of Tegucigalpa there was a traffic jam. The baby missionary did not like this at all and used to cry when he got frustrated waiting in the car which seemed to hardly ever move. Then one day one of their missionary friends suggested that they listen to a Bible Story CD in the car that would entertain and inspire them all.  So, they listened to it the next time they were caught in a traffic jam.  They all just loved the Bible story which was one of the greatest stories they had ever heard.  They were all so happy.  When they met their missionary friends again (who were our own church’s Gibson family) they thanked them for loaning them the CD and said “who was that telling the stories?” The Gibson family laughed and laughed at the Diaz family and said, “that is your own G.P. (Grand Pa).”

That silly story was true, and it illustrates how important the great stories of Scripture are to all of us at every age.  We are starting a new series this summer entitled The Greatest Stories Ever Told. Each week you are going to hear a moving testimony of how Grace has transformed the life of someone in our church family.  I have asked our Music Team to raise the bar on having the wow factor in every worship service because we want to sense the “Presence of God” in each service. Then the Teaching Pastor is going to tell a twenty-minute Bible story, giving it everything they have; always with one powerful point. This week I am starting with the story of Moses and teaching us the profound meaning of “stand still and see the glory of the Lord.” If you want to bring your kids to church they will love it.  But as you know Children’s and Youth Ministry is always great.  Moses has been pointed to as a likely candidate for telling the story of Genesis, so we are starting with the story of Moses; but the point is that the Bible is a collection of funny, exciting stories that have been passed down from generation to generation with insights that our society, our families and our church desperately needs to hear.  And yes, you will be able to download the stories and play them in the car for your kids or yourself to reboot the inspiration in your life.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

PS: Don’t forget this week we are beginning our Summer worship with all services in the Spirit Falls Sanctuary.  The times are Saturday night at 5:30 pm, Sunday morning at 9:00 am, and Sunday morning at 11:00 am.  Join in our “Happy Hour” of fellowship and refreshments on the South Patio of Spirit Falls every Sunday throughout the summer.