Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Time Machine

By Rey Daiz

It’s never good to have favorites when it comes to kids.  While I was a teacher in Honduras, I would always say, “They are my second favorite.”  Everyone was my second favorite. But really I did have a favorite.  It’s a young man named Douglas. 

I met Douglas a kid in 2004.  He worked in the garbage dump with his parents and older siblings.  I was at his sixth grade graduation.  And this December, I was at his High School graduation.  I invested more in him than in any of the others because I sensed something in his heart.  He is a bigger boy with the tough guy reputation but he has the most sensitive, generous, and pure hearts. I was so proud of him at his graduation.  You can probably tell by the picture.  Maoly, the girl pictured next to him, also graduated and is another one of my favorites.

Douglas and Maoly are witnesses of God’s wonderful grace.  Living martyrs. They are devoted followers of Jesus.  They have escaped the garbage dump.  They have escaped the many temptation of their communities.  They have fought, and with God's help, have overcome insurmountable odds.  Now they are both on their way to university.  They are already agents of transformation in their communities.  

The cycle of poverty has been broken.  The power of sin has been broken.  It’s complete.  It’s done.  It’s finished.  This is the abundant life Jesus promised.  

After graduation, I found pictures of that sixth grade graduation of the senior class.  Their class was three times as big- but only Antonio, Douglas and Maoly made it through High School.  

One is a gang member, currently in jail.
Another works as basically an indentured servant.
Two are single parents raising their kids. 

So although I rejoice with these two, part of me is broken for the ones who have fallen.  All of them had the same opportunities.  Some made wise choices.  Others made unwise choices.  

I wondered, what if there had been a time machine back at their sixth grade graduation?  What if they could have gotten inside, gone forward, seen their High School graduation, college, future possibilities?  Then go back.  What choices would they have made? Anything different?  Of course.

You see, wisdom is a time machine.  Wisdom grants us access to God’s will.  Wisdom shows us which is the best path.  Wisdom leads to life. 

Wisdom is a time machine and the wise make decisions based on the end. 

It’s easy to see where these children in the garbage dump went wrong.  It’s not so easy to see where we go wrong in our own lives.  Which is why we need wisdom.  All of us need wisdom. 

I have challenged the church to get into the time machine by reading a proverb everyday during the month of January.  On January first, we are all going to read Proverbs 1. 

Will you join us?  Will you get in the time machine with us?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Celebration that Never Ends

Washington Cathedral is celebrating the Christmas season this week! Come join us and I challenge you to invite others to come and experience the glory of Christmas together with you at Washington Cathedral’s many celebrations!

Last night our small group "Diamonds in the Rough" went caroling around the neighborhood where we meet and invited the neighbors to celebrate Christmas at Washington Cathedral.  

We told them about all the great and exciting things happening. The candlelight worship, the children's manger scene, the adult and children's choirs, the cherub dancers, and the positive message of Christmas.  

We them invited to stay after the service to continue the celebration with free carriage rides, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies, Santa's workshop, a snow making machine, gingerbread cookie decorating for kids, and free pictures with Santa for families. 

Everyone seemed to love it.  In 29 years of going door to door, this was the most positive reception I have received.  Maybe it was the great singing, but moreover I think it was Christmas – it’s in the air.  The world has never needed a Christmas more in my lifetime than this year. 

Who could you invite to the one hour services this week?
Services are at:
·      Saturday at 5:30pm
·      Sunday at 9:30am and 11:00am (We will even have the game on after the service at 11 am)
·      Monday at 6:00pm
·      Tuesday at 4:00pm, 6:00pm, and 11:30pm

God can really use you to bring the joy and the magic of Christmas to touch someone’s life this year.  I am praying for you.  You can do it!

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White 

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.  Luke 2:1

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What’s the Appropriate Response to Witnessing a Miracle?

By Pastor Rey Diaz

 Last week a friend of mine asked me, "What is the appropriate response to experiencing a miracle?" Shout? Jump? Scream? Cry? My friend experienced a supernatural healing from a cyst in his left vocal cord and his reaction (You can read about it and see the before and after pictures here: www.michaelpatz.com).

 That same night, I experienced a miracle. And it was my turn to write - 'God is amazing. There are not words. I'm stunned. I'm shocked. I’m utterly overwhelmed.' 

It's not an easy thing to witness a miracle. To see pure beauty. Relentless grace. Unending love. What's the appropriate reaction? I want to cry. I want to shout. I want dance. I want to fall on my knees.

A life permanently changed. A child finds their Heavenly Father's love and experienced his grace. Rescued. Redeemed. Transformed.

 This is Dulce when I first met her near the garbage dump.

 Dulce means "sweet." But Dulce's life has been anything but sweet. She was raised in the garbage dump by her siblings. No father. An absent mother. Her grandparents took her in but they had to continue working in the garbage dump to have food for their grandchildren.

 So Dulce and her siblings learned to scavenge in the garbage dump. Last year, Dulce's brother, Kevin, was run over by a garbage dump, dying instantly. She grieved. She cried. But life continued. So it seemed her name was a cruel joke. There was nothing sweet about her life. 'Bitter' would have been more accurate.

 Psalms 68:5 - A father to the fatherless…

 But God intervened. It's His modus operandi…
 To offer hope when it seems hopeless.
 To rescue when it seems impossible.
 To give life to the lifeless.

 God intervened through AFE. Through people who were willing to serve. Dulce's family received a house. Her siblings started school. The family found support at church.

 The AFE nursery took in Dulce. They loved her, protected her, and fed her while her grandmother and grandfather were at the dump during the day. Dulce then started kindergarten. And she has just graduated. She is on her way.

 Why can't she be a future leader in Honduras? Why can't she bring about the change the country so desperately needs? Why can't she be an example to all the other thousand of children who are still captured in the cycle of poverty? So I ask again, what’s the appropriate response to witnessing a miracle?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Faith that Overwhelms Fears

By Pastor Rey Diaz

Black Friday is for people who love crowds, lines, and chaos.  I prefer Cyber Monday.  From the comfort of my computer desk, I can go to Amazon.com and buy Christmas presents for the whole familoggerly.  I love it.  It’s Dec 1st and I’m already done with all my Christmas shopping.  It’s not just the convenience of shopping but the amazing delivery as a prime member.  All my packages arrive in two days (I promise you I’m not getting a kick back from the people at Amazon, although I should). 

Well it turns out that Amazon works with 1,000s of smaller companies.  And although I’m 100 percent satisfied, I have never written a review.  I received a message yesterday that just shocked me.  Here it is:

As a small but passionate American business, we lack the big marketing budgets of larger corporations, and rely on word-of-mouth more than anything. If it is not too much to ask, please help us by writing a short review on Amazon.com. Unfortunately, less than 1% of satisfied customers write a review, but 99% of unsatisfied customers do. Your review therefore would be invaluable to us and helps strengthen the Amazon marketplace for all. 

I couldn’t believe it.  The numbers are staggering.  The unsatisfied are basically a hundred times more vocal than the satisfied.  We hear complaints, criticisms, and negativity a hundred times more than the good stuff. 

It made me think of our spiritual walks with God.  Isn’t the same thing usually true in our personal lives.  We notice and see the bad, the scary, the unfair, the unjust and the darkness.  But the good is sometimes harder to focus on.  Maybe that is why God is constantly telling us, “Don’t be afraid.”  Because our tendency is to focus on the fearful.  The problem.  The challenge.  The difficulty.  Basically, our fears are a hundred times more vocal than our faith. 

Matthew 14:22-33 tells the story of Jesus walking on water.  The disciples, who are on the boat, think it’s a ghost and are afraid.  Jesus responds with some of his favorite words, “Don’t be afraid.”  Peter wants proof.  He tells Jesus, “If it is really you, tell me to come out and walk on the water.”  So Peter begins his walk towards Jesus on the water.  He was walking towards Jesus, but instead of gazing at Him, he lets his focus turn towards the waves.  He allows fear to take a hold of him and he begins to sink.  Jesus, intervenes and saves him.  With love in his eyes he says “Oh, you of little faith.  Why did you doubt me?”  Jesus takes Peter and leads him to the same place he is trying to lead us to.  A place of fearlessness.  A place of trust.  A place of overwhelming faith.  Jesus wants to grow our faith .  He wants our faith to overwhelm fear. 

So that in midst of our problems, in the midst of the storm, in the midst of the waves and chaos, our faith remains steadfast.  Secure and confident in God. 

That’s why we follow Jesus.  And as a church, we want the same for your faith.  There is a song that speaks of this type of faith.  I have used it as a prayer – “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.  Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.  And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior.”

Would you take some time to listen to song? Oceans by Hillsongs United - 

Would you memorize Romans 8:28?
 "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good 
of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Philippines 1:3 - "Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God."

We can't say it any better than the apostle Paul.  We are so thankful for you.  For your family.  For your life. We thank God everyday for the privilege of serving you.  

On this Thanksgiving week, we just want to make sure you know how thankful we are for each one of you.  Thank you.  From the bottom of hearts, thank you.  

We pray you have a blessed Thanksgiving this year.  On Wednesday night our church family is celebrating with a Thanksgiving Communion Service at 7 pm.  You are invited to join us.  This time of year our community food banks always needs lots of help, so we are asking people to bring non-perishable food as part of our celebration.

We are all looking forward to a great Holiday season as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior with a bit of flare this Christmas.  You’ll be hearing more about this at our worship services during the month of December.

God Bless You and Your Family,

Pastor Tim & the Washington Cathedral Staff

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Prayer Meditation

 By Pastor Becca McCary

The sermon on Sunday was on the Mary Martha story from Luke 10. The challenge to the church was to do the “One thing” Jesus asks: tune our hearts into the presence of Jesus for it is there that we find complete acceptance and belonging. Here is a prayer practice to help teach you to tune your heart to Jesus.

(This is a prayer practice meant to be done with a family member, friend, or someone you trust. One person will lead this prayer by reading this script while the other person or people follow the directions, connecting with God. This is a great way to learn and to listen to God by tuning into God’s presence. Let the person leading this activity read slowly and calmly, giving the person or group time to soak in each phrase you say.)

We are going to do a relaxation prayer practice. It is OK to fall asleep, because we are going to practice a very relaxed prayer. God can speak to us even while we are sleeping. It’s also ok to use your imagination to help you connect to God during this prayer too. So if I ask you to imagine God, think creatively… imagining what God looks like, feels like to hug, or even smells like. Our main goal is to be calm and relaxed as we recognize God’s presence with us.  

This prayer practice is based on the following verse:
“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

Close your eyes. Relax and get comfortable. Feel the way your body sits in the chair or on the floor and re-adjust as you need.  

Take a deep breath in, feeling the air fill your lungs. Now slowly release your breath, letting any worry or tension leave with the exhaled air. Slowly breathe in remembering God’s love for you. And slowly breathe out any anxiety you might be feeling. Take a deep breath remembering that God is offering you peace. And slowly exhale as you become more and more focused on relaxing.  

Continue to breathe normally as you feel comfortable.

Let any distractions around you wash away. As distracting thoughts or questions come into your mind, picture yourself taking hold of those thoughts with your hand and then putting it in a jar with a lid for later. Then return to your relaxed, focused state. Hear God’s voice calling you deeper into his presence as you continue to breathe deeply.

Let your body slowly relax more and more as you realize God’s complete love for you. Like waves of relaxation rushing over your body, feel your face relaxing. Your jaw muscles loosening, your tongue becoming still and heavier, and the stress wrinkles on your forehead loosening up.  

Remember that there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less. So even in this moment of complete stillness, God loves you and fully embraces you.

As your neck muscles loosen, your shoulders dropping down, imagine God’s hand gently resting on your shoulder, communicating God’s gentle, warm presence. Can you feel his large, warm hand resting on your shoulder? Maybe God is sitting beside you with His arm around you, or maybe God is standing in front of you, gently placing His hand on your shoulder.  

Can you see the warmth and love in God’s eyes as He looks at you? God designed you; He made you; and He is so happy to have your attention right now. And even as you imagine God looking at you with compassion and love, remember that God really is here with us. The bible says “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.” The Bible tells us that “God is love.” So any moment that you’ve ever felt fully or deeply loved, draw on that to know that God loves you like that, and even more so right now. You can be completely at home in God’s presence.

Continue to breathe deeply as your back and stomach relax… letting the relaxation flow down to your legs and even into your feet. Feel yourself firmly but comfortably rooted to the floor or chair.  
Now as you sit completely relaxed from head to toe, picture some place in nature that is beautiful. Maybe it is a camp site you visited once with your family… Maybe it is a hike you took with friends… or maybe it is some special place you have made up completely in your imagination. How does the air feel on your skin? Is it damp and cold or is it warm and dry? Is the sun shining? Can you feel the air on your skin? Are there tall trees? Grainy sand? Picture the specific place in your mind. As you sit in this peaceful, beautiful spot, hear the words from Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.

When I am in God’s presence I am perfectly content because I know that he loves me just as I am and is offering me perfect peace.

He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.

Can you hear the water flowing?

    He renews my strength.  

I feel the tiredness and stress in my body leave as I totally relax in God’s presence.

He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.

God shows me what he wants for me and reveals good ways to live. There is no stress or guess work in following Jesus because God speaks to me, continually guiding me in where I should go.

Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
No Matter what I face, I can trust you to care for me.  

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

And as you continue to breathe deeply, enjoying God’s peaceful presence, I’m going to count back from five as you slowly come back to a more awake state. Five, your breathing becomes a little bit less deep. Four, your fingers begin to move around a bit more. Three, you can feel your toes start to move now too. Two, your eyes open. One, you’re sitting back up.

How did that feel? Have you done something like that before? Were you able to picture God? Were you able to feel what it is like to be in God’s loving presence? Was anything hard about it? The more practice we get “being still and knowing that he is God” the easier it becomes to sense God throughout our entire day.