The Grace Revolution


Terrorism is something that might come into our conversations. If not weekly, perhaps even daily. Read Psalm 46 and remember how we trust God instead of giving in to fear and faithlessness.

This weekend I am preaching on the Book of Jonah and terrorism.  I believe that we, as Christ followers, can be raised to a higher level of bold faith in this world that God has put us in to raise our families.  In addition, I am going to interview a member of our church who survived one of the worst acts of terrorism in U.S. history.  See how God was faithful in this dramatic story and how he is ready to unleash bold faith and revolutionary kindness on each of our lives.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim

The Runaway


Ask people what they must do to get to return to God and most reply, “Be good.” Jesus’ stories contradict that answer. All we must do is cry, “Help!” God welcomes home anyone who will have him and, in fact, has made the first move already. Below is a modern day telling of the Prodigal Son from the great book, "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Phillip Yancey. May we all have a sense of wonder and awe as we think about the impact Grace has had on our lives!


A young girl grows up on a cherry orchard just above Traverse City, Michigan. Her parents, a bit old-fashioned, tend to overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, and the length of her skirts. They ground her a few times, and she seethes inside. “I hate you!” she screams at her father when he knocks on the door of her room after an argument, and that night she acts on a plan she has mentally rehearsed scores of times. She runs away.

She has visited Detroit only once before, on a bus trip with her church youth group to watch the Tigers play. Because newspapers in Traverse City report in lurid detail the gangs, drugs, and violence in downtown Detroit, she concludes that is probably the last place her parents will look for her. California, maybe, or Florida, but not Detroit.

Her second day there she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. He offers her a ride, buys her lunch, arranges a place for her to stay. He gives her some pills that make her feel better than she’s ever felt before. She was right all along, she decides: Her parents were keeping her from all the fun.

The good life continues for a month, two months, a year. The man with the big car—she calls him “Boss”–teaches her a few things that men like. Since she’s underage, men pay a premium for her. She lives in a penthouse and orders room service whenever she wants. Occasionally she thinks about the folks back home, but their lives now seem so boring that she can hardly believe she grew up there. She has a brief scare when she sees her picture printed on the back of a milk carton with the headline, “Have you seen this child?” But by now she has blond hair, and with all the makeup and body-piercing jewelry she wears, nobody would mistake her for a child. Besides, most of her friends are runaways, and nobody squeals in Detroit.

After a year, the first sallow signs of illness appear, and it amazes her how fast the boss turns mean. “These days, we can’t mess around,” he growls, and before she knows it she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, but they don’t pay much, and all the money goes to support her drug habit. When winter blows in she finds herself sleeping on metal grates outside the big department stores. “Sleeping” is the wrong word—a teenage girl at night in downtown Detroit can never relax her guard. Dark bands circle her eyes. Her cough worsens.

One night, as she lies awake listening for footsteps, all of a sudden everything about her life looks different. She no longer feels like a woman of the world. She feels like a little girl, lost in a cold and frightening city. She begins to whimper. Her pockets are empty and she’s hungry. She needs a fix. She pulls her legs tight underneath her and shivers under the newspapers she’s piled atop her coat. Something jolts a synapse of memory and a single image fills her mind: of May in Traverse City, when a million cherry trees bloom at once, with her golden retriever dashing through the rows and rows of blossomy trees in chase of a tennis ball.

God, why did I leave? she says to herself, and pain stabs at her heart. My dog back home eats better than I do now. She’s sobbing, and she knows in a flash that more than anything else in the world she wants to go home.

Three straight phone calls, three straight connections with the answering machine. She hangs up without leaving a message the first two times, but the third time she says, “Dad, Mom, it’s me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, well, I guess I’ll just stay on the bus until it hits Canada.”

It takes about seven hours for a bus to make all the stops between Detroit and Traverse City, and during that time she realizes the flaws in her plan. What if her parents are out of town and miss the message? Shouldn’t she have waited another day or so until she could talk to them? Even if they are home, they probably wrote her off as dead long ago. She should have given them some time to overcome the shock.

Her thoughts bounce back and forth between those worries and the speech she is preparing for her father. “Dad, I’m sorry. I know I was wrong. It’s not your fault, it’s all mine. Dad, can you forgive me?” She says the words over and over, her throat tightening even as she rehearses them. She hasn’t apologized to anyone in years.

The bus has been driving with lights on since Bay City. Tiny snowflakes hit the road, and the asphalt steams. She’s forgotten how dark it gets at night out here. A deer darts across the road and the bus swerves. Every so often, a billboard. A sign posting the mileage to Traverse City. Oh, God.

When the bus finally rolls into the station, its air brakes hissing in protest, the driver announces in a crackly voice over the microphone, “Fifteen minutes, folks. That’s all we have here.” Fifteen minutes to decide her life. She checks herself in a compact mirror, smooths her hair, and licks the lipstick off her teeth. She looks at the tobacco stains on her fingertips and wonders if her parents will notice. If they’re there.

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect, and not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepare her for what she sees. There, in the concrete-walls-and-plastic-chairs bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of 40 family members—brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and great-grandmother to boot. They are all wearing ridiculous-looking party hats and blowing noisemakers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads “Welcome home!”

Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She looks through tears and begins the memorized speech, “Dad, I’m sorry. I know … “

He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. You’ll be late for the party. A banquet’s waiting for you at home.”


A God With Skin

In time gone by, God showed Himself

but people ran and cried

too scared to know He really cared

no matter how He tried.

Through prophets, teachers, leaders all

He tried to show His love;

but humans only learn by fear

and strike what they can’t trust.

Though close to them He wished to be

and awesome though He was

He couldn’t get quite close enough

He’d only scare us off.

He devised a plan to get in close,

a man, He would become;

Jesus He sent, to show the world

the Father’s only Son.

He lived with us, loved with us

He finally came to see

what made us just the way we were

the fears, the hopes the dreams.

Those things that drove us to be good,

those things that made us bad,

He knew we need to know God’s love

that piece He knew He had.

He was the sacrifice for us-

to God, He made the way

so we could come before Him now

and not be scared away.

This love exchanged, God to man

that man could come to God

through Jesus, He the way prepared

it was all done out of love.

~Fiona Monaghan

When The Illusion Is Gone


Disillusionment, it happens to us all. It is that place from which one could build a stronger belief system by examining what it is we truly want to depend upon when things get tough.

This could be viewed as a ‘crisis of faith’ and could have been a slippery slope heading to disbelief.  I chose to see it as a place to re evaluate, dig in, hold on, and do some checking into what I believed truly. Or find out if it was a belief system belonging to someone else that I had acquired.

It was there that I truly found out who God was, who Jesus was and what job the Holy Spirit had to do in my life.

I read books from authors who had dealt with similar situations. People who had questioned what they were being told when it didn’t conform to their expectations, and who had also gone on a faith search.

Philip Yancey was a man raised in the 70’s in southern Baptist churches who had a head on collision with the thinking of the black and white issue. C.S. Lewis came from an atheist background and found his way to faith. I was in good company. 

My dilemma had to do with what the ‘church’s view was toward people in crisis: People in addiction - people of divorce. I had been raised in a church and a way of thinking that if you prayed hard enough, hung in there long enough, you could overcome all manner of things. But what if the person in the marriage kept up the abuse knowing the partner wouldn’t leave?  What I saw instead were families torn by abuse, pain, and violence that was being tolerated because to divorce was ‘unchristian’. It put me at odds with my church family because that was me. I knew in my heart that God was more forgiving and tolerant than the ideas I was hearing. I pulled away from church, but kept my faith in God. For 10 years I lived alienated from a body of believers, until the day when I found out about Washington Cathedral.

Many changes had occurred in my life in those 10 years. I now had a grand-daughter from a teenage daughter which has been one of the best things that could have happened to our family. Through that, my daughter found her path, embraced motherhood and raised a fantastic daughter. I had remarried and found a loving man but one who came with some brokenness of his own. Washington Cathedral was a body of believers who had a big, collective heart. They accepted people who came broken, hurting, questioning and loved us. I have never regretted the day we walked into the sanctuary, looked at the waterfall and felt “at home” and in the resulting 12 years it continues.

This series we just finished on ‘Disillusionment’ has caused me to look back over my journey and see just how healthy it is to ask these questions and have the discussion. We each have a journey to take, it is so much easier to know we are on it with fellow travelers who can appreciate what we are going through without criticism, but with the understanding that life gets messy and that when it gets really tough, God is there loving us and waiting for us to ask for help. It also helps to have people to talk to who give good counsel from personal experience. I believe that makes for a healthy church. One that recognizes our human frailties offers the solutions and supports that one while time is taken to get to that place of acceptance. 


A Response To A Tragic Week


Lord, you have poured out amazing blessings on your land! You have restored the fortunes of Israel.  Psalm 85:1

Last week was a great weekend at Washington Cathedral.  It was the kickoff of our Summer of Family Fun.  I shared something very near to my heart:  the importance of Godly patriotism to heal our nation.  I know that times have changed and that other generations have high percentages that question patriotism of any kind.  One note sent to me told me that it is impossible to be a Christian and also be patriotic.  I accept the challenge to communicate this core value for many reasons but, most of all, I believe that Christ is the answer to the problems of our world.  That is why I have taken the time to write an historical romance novel about patriotism called “Ulysses Dream” to come out in the first part of September this year.  The publisher might change the title and if you are interested you can follow its development at the site  

The following is a response to recent violence in Dallas that I wrote on another blog and it is followed by a response from my Assistant, retired police Detective Karen Haverkate, after someone referred to her as a hero for having been a law enforcement officer.  It should give us something to think about….

I am praying for the families of the police officers shot in Dallas and for those whose loved ones died in other shootings in America. I don't pretend to understand everything that is going on but I do know that as a nation we are so divided and racial tension is real. Public servants often take the brunt of this division. Each situation breaks my heart and the only answer is that we work diligently to come together as a community. More simplistic pronouncements just cause further division although I know they are easy, knee jerk reactions by people who care but don't know what to do. We need to make friends with people in our nation who are not like us. We are all human beings. One tragedy is a travesty against all humanity. We who live by love have our work to do. We must be more loving, better bridge builders, standing with victims, their families and police families. We must practice everything we have been taught by Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and Mother Theresa. We have terrorists that are determined to destroy our freedoms.  We don't need to be terrorists ourselves. We need to be ‘reverse terrorists’ or People of Love.

In response to being referred to as a ‘hero’ by one of our church family in a discussion about the events in Dallas, Karen replied:

“Thank you, but I am not a hero. I got into law enforcement because I really wanted to help people. ALL people. I worked patrol for seven years, event planning for three, background investigations for almost two, and fraud investigations for 14. I believe I treated all the people I encountered equally, no matter their age, race, gender, economic status, religion or life style preference. Even so, I can't count the number of times I heard, "You're only stopping/arresting me because I am _________". I got into more than a few fights, and used force on more than one occasion, but only in response to an act of aggression/violence against me or others. Never did I go to work with the desire to get into a fight, assault or kill someone. And I truly believe none of the officers I worked with did either. None of us took the job with the desire to kill people. I had to draw my weapon several times but I only came really close to shooting someone once, and I cried afterward; partly out of anger at the guy for putting me in that position, and partly from relief that I didn't have to shoot him. But, I was prepared to. I had no idea that the gun he was holding as he walked toward me, ignoring repeated orders to stop and drop the gun, was empty. That the shots I heard prior to encountering him had been the last of his ammunition. Fighting with and using force on another person is not "fun". Hurting or killing someone is not "fun". The paperwork involved in either is not "fun". The media and social scrutiny afterwards is not "fun".  Do bad things happen? Yes. Are there some bad officers? Sadly, yes. Are they the majority? Absolutely not. Did they start out that way or did something happen in their career to make them that way? I personally feel it would be the latter. When I was in background investigations, we took measures to weed out any applicant that showed a propensity for bias or violence. We DON’T WANT that type of officer working for/with us. So, thank you for your compliment, but I am not a hero. I was just a cop that tried to do her job fairly and justly for everyone, no matter what they looked like. And I believe that the majority of officers out there are trying to do just that.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

Family On Wire


The 2008 award winning documentary, Man On Wire tells the true story of Philippe Petit and his seemingly impossible (and very illegal) attempt in 1974 to walk a high-wire between the tops of the World Trade Center. It’s a fascinating look at a man’s courageous attempt to try the impossible!


I remember the feelings I experienced when first watching the film. Tense...anxious...and by the time the movie ended...exhausted! I do a good job of making you want to run out and watch the movie, don’t I?  You’re welcome. 

I thought about Petit’s story while reflecting on my weekend sermon [You can watch it HERE] where I talked about finding balance in our ever busy lives. In my message, I briefly told the story of how I had recently found myself screaming in my car because the busyness of life had just felt like it was becoming too much. In case you’re wondering...yes, the temporary onset of rage helped, but not recommended to try at home, or at your workplace.

Tenseness, anxiety, burdened and exhausted was how I was feeling that morning in my car after several weeks of work, coaching baseball, homework and every other calendar demand that seemed to be pulling at me. That’s what happens to us when life begins to feel like a balancing act on a high-wire. Where you have so much going on in your day that one mis-step makes you feel like your day will crumble, or worse, you feel like you’ll let your family down.

Jesus knew something about being busy, meeting the needs of others and trying to find some time for himself. In all the madness of his busyness, Jesus always managed to stay on course and honor the Father with his life’s mission. And that should be our goal, too. To honor God with our daily living while not getting lost in the chaos of our calendars!

Of course, we’re never going to be perfect at this. We’ll have our moments of insanity where we find ourselves screaming in cars. (Or maybe that’s just me...)

Grace. Lots of grace, friends. And patience. Be patient with yourselves and your family. Life does feel like a high-wire act at times, but be patient as a family and remember that no one can ever be "all things to all people".

Are you currently feeling overwhelmed by busyness? Like your calendar has become your master? Like everyday is a balancing act on a tightrope? Remember this promise from Jesus today.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Grace and Peace.

Pastor Rex

Grace...A Wonderful Word


A few years ago I was on a quest to rebuild my broken faith when I decided to read books by three particular authors. Philip Yancey, C.S. Lewis, & Brennan Manning. These three men came from different denominations, different generations even of different ages, but all came with a great understanding of the word Grace.

I love the book by Philip Yancey What’s So Amazing about Grace?”  where he examined Grace from many perspectives. I learned so much about this one word and the different forms in which it is found. We believe that God’s grace is “unmerited favor” meaning it is not something we can purchase or earn. It is usually found in places where the person who extends it does so because there is nothing else that can be done, but trusts that a good outcome will result. He goes about showing many situations where grace is lived out in real life from the story of a young girl coming back home after running away for a ‘better life’ and her family take her back with open arms. He tells of a situation where many scholars had met in Britain to discuss the different religions and what was the fundamental difference between them and Christianity? C.S Lewis walked into the room during the discussion and responded that Grace was the biggest difference. It is the only religion where God reaches down to man, whereby other religions are man trying to please or reach God by their actions.

He states that Grace is one of those words that has never lost its meaning. It has stood the test of time. Other words can change with cultures or generations and take on different meanings. For example: gay used to mean happy or bright and gentleman used to be a Title not a description. Grace is a multi-faceted word, but the meanings stay clear. Take for example grace note: extra notes in a song that add depth. Grace period: when you get time extended without penalty. Grace editions: more magazines than you paid for.

Another favorite author, Brennan Manning, wrote the fictional book “The Prodigal” where he puts into words the story Jesus told in The Lost Son in Luke, but in a modern situation. Beautifully expressed, it deals with a man’s actions alienating himself from family and church and the road back to faith, which was started by his father going to him and extending grace while he was at his lowest point. (I highly recommend this book)

Grace is a great word and a great reality.   In practicality, its offering something of ourselves to another person when they don’t deserve it. Maybe not passing a judgement on someone’s actions, but trusting that God will bring good out of it. Look beyond someone’s action to the cause and reason behind it. Being a friend in need, with no expectation of payback. As it was extended to us, let us extend it outward to others and in that we are living in that grace given to us.

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Learning To Love (and Like) Crazy Uncle Eddie


Central to Jesus’ teachings is the message that we are to love others. In fact, he says in John 15 that his very commandment is to love each other the way that he has loved us. Love. At first glance, we might think, “No problem. I love people!” But his word for love has a much deeper meaning than what our society often understands, embraces, and practices. The word for love here is “Agape”. It simply means that we will fully love others in ways that show sacrifice and humility. Remember when Jesus washed his disciples feet? That was agape love. If we believe Jesus died on the cross for us, then we essentially have accepted his agape love. Even when we did nothing to deserve this kind of love. When it comes to family, most parents understand and practice agape love to their kids all the time. They understand the sacrifice of putting the needs of their children before their own. That explains why we, parents of young children, often look tired and haggard walking into church!screen-shot-2015-12-13-at-2-13-20-pm-1 But what about our crazy Uncle Eddie? You know...the people in our family who not only are difficult to love, but to LIKE?!? What about these people? How do we show agape to them when we’d rather not be in the same room with them? Frankly, there is never an easy answer this..

Rather than try and provide solutions, I thought I’d offer a couple insights that are worth remembering when we are having a hard time loving (or even liking) difficult family members:

  1. It’s worth remembering that Jesus showed agape to others when they had done nothing to earn it, or even deserve it. Are we making anyone in our family feel that they have to earn our love and acceptance?
  1. When Jesus displayed agape to others it was also a way of showing his respect to them. Despite some family being hard to love, are you respecting them? Do you shame them behind their back? Do you disrespect them in front of other family members?
  1. Remember, that to someone, somewhere we are probably difficult to love, too. It’s never just about others and not about us. We need grace just as much as crazy Uncle Eddie!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Rex

Photo Credit


Living Your Unique, Creative, Beautiful and Jesus Centered Identity


Last week the music world was shocked to hear about the sudden death of the astoundingly creative musician, Prince. Prince was a pop music icon who in the 1980’s and 90’s sold millions of albums and influenced music forever. It didn’t take long for many other music stars to begin honoring Prince in their concerts by covering one of his songs. Usually, his most famous song, Purple Rain...

Watching these talented people pay tribute to one of their heroes is really cool, but it makes me miss a talent like Prince even more as I realize his music and creative ability just can’t be replaced. He was that good!

1424679603933Prince had a unique identity and look about him as well. Creative. Unabashed. Colorful. Enigmatic. His identity, like his talent, cannot be replaced or even copied. One of the reasons people will miss him so much is because he made the very most of his talent and creativeness. He made the most of his unique identity.

The Bible teaches us that everyone who receives Christ becomes a new creation. In essence, Jesus gives us a new identity wrapped in the beauty and grace of all that he is. The challenge, of course is to live in this world and not be captivated by it in such a way that we fail to remember our new identity in Jesus is made to be lived to the fullest. We are called to authentically and vigorously live our unique, creative, beautiful and Jesus centered lives in such a way that when we one day leave this earth, others will say of us...there can be no other (fill in your name)!

What kind of impact is your Christ-born identity making today in your world as a mom, a dad, a coach, an employer, a co-worker, a neighbor, or a friend? What legacy are we leaving this world? Know today that God has great purpose for you and your identity as a follower of Jesus is to show this world the kind of loving, good, gracious and powerful God He really is. Now, go and live your identity with vigor!


Grace and Peace.

Pastor Rex

Photo Credit

Like A Bull In A China Shop


I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “like a bull in a china shop”. It essentially means being clumsily destructive. Or, causing damage without the intention of doing so... This past week, we took time to look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:5 where he says that God blesses those who are meek. Meek. What an interesting word! What could it possibly mean and why was it so important that Jesus talks about it in his Sermon on the Mount?

The best way I can summarize the word “meek” is to say its the culmination of having humility, gentleness and self-control WHILE knowing that I also have my sinful nature which can be very destructive to both myself and others. In other words...we are very much like the bull living in a world full of value, beauty and fragility (the china shop).

179171741_295x166This life of meekness that Jesus teaches is not easily attained, nor are we born with it. It comes from our willingness to humbly submit ourselves to God’s authority and say yes to the ways of Jesus. Easier said, than done, right? I’m with you! But thankfully, we have something called grace on our side. When the bull in us decides to romp around the china shop leaving a wake of bad choices, hurtful actions and one big mess; we have God’s grace to lean on. Where would we be without the God’s grace and mercy?

This week, let’s seek to allow the Holy Spirit to produce within us humility, gentleness and self-control as we learn to live for Jesus, knowing the bull within us is always there. May our prayer today be: “Jesus, I humbly surrender my entire self to you and your authority. Help me to live a meek life today and to experience a greater blessing from the father”.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Rex