Before our next word or action…

Even now, I’m reminded that the word of God and the presence of God stands at all times and under all circumstances, even as new developments and events unfold.

Like many of you, I’ve been horrified in recent weeks at the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. As a next-door neighbor to a Denver police officer, I’m equally horrified at what he and his peers have faced over the past 48 hours.

Times like this are feeling increasingly familiar, and the idea of ‘thoughts and prayers’ has been frowned upon in favor of visible action over the past few years. It’s viewed as a shying away from doing more by some.

For followers of Jesus Christ, prayer IS the action that guides all other action. Prayer is what Jesus himself engaged in as a priority. For Jesus and his followers, it was – and is – essential to keeping unbroken fellowship with God the Father. Note his prayer in the desert prior to the beginning of his ministry, in solitude early in the morning before he encountered people, and in the midst of various circumstances.

Engaging in prayer and with the word of God forms how we engage everyone and everything else:

•Prayer fills us with the Father’s perspective – on Him, on us, on changing circumstances, on everything.
•Prayer brings us back to the priority of the glory of God.
•Prayer cultivates the heart with which Jesus lived amongst people.
•Prayer makes us perceptive to the guidance and movement of the Holy Spirit.
•Prayer points us to the same treasure our journey through Peter’s first letter has been pointing to: the living and lasting hope that is Jesus Christ.
 
To go about any of the multitude of actions of our day without first intentionally seeking the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and being guided by the word of God, is to offer our broken world far less than the living hope we’ve been given. Without prayer, we have a tendency to become people who react to all people and all things with hopeless words and actions.
 

May we be people whose first response in seemingly hopeless times is one that flows from our own fellowship with the living and lasting hope of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I hope you’ll come to the word of God with me this morning, as Peter’s first letter to the church points us to our living hope.

Praying for all of us this morning, and in the days ahead!

Nathan


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A handful of smiles, and a reminder for this Sunday

Three items for you to have in mind today:
  1. If in the midst of more meals at home, you’ve run into a meal “experiment” that didn’t go well, this little one can empathize.

  2. The staff here at the church is thinking about and praying for you through all of this. We look forward to being face-to-face again…whenever that is. In the meantime, our ‘Hello’ photo is up top!

  3. Don’t forget that we’ll be taking communion together this Sunday during the service. We’d love to have everyone view the service together at 10am. Like last time, use whatever you have for communion elements. If you don’t have bread and juice, rest in the assurance that our Heavenly Father knows the posture of the heart in the midst of it.

Have a great rest of the week!

Pastor Nathan


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Echo

As I type this, our youngest kiddo is in the midst of his school day online. It’s music, so for the benefit of all humanity, his mom is helping him.

The subject? Echoes. I don’t understand echoes from a musical standpoint, but I encounter them all over my life. You do too. While there’s beauty in the echo, we have a tendency to tune into a specific sort of echo.

How we interpret life’s echoes

Times like this give us time to wonder about life. If you’re like me, it’s easy to give attention to some loud echoes. It’s the echo of what isn’t over the echo of what is. Constraints. Fear. Uncertainty.

Peter had an encounter with Jesus in John 21 that was full of echoes.

They’re fishing again. Again. That’s what they were doing when Jesus first found them and called them a few years prior. Once again, they have no idea what was ahead.

Echo.

They fished all night, and ended up with nothing. Similar to the time in Luke 5 when they’d been fishing all night and caught nothing. Fishermen who can’t catch fish. Nice.

Echo.

Jesus stood on the shore and told them to put their nets out in a different spot. So a carpenter was telling fishermen how to fish. Result? An enormous haul. Just like Luke 5.

Echo.

Only after listening to his words in repetition did they recognize him. Just like two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Echo.

They got to the shore and found a charcoal fire he’d prepared with fish and bread. Peter had been here before. He’d stood next to a fire to get warm when he’d denied Jesus.

Echo.

All of these are echoes that call back to prior moments. With our human interpretations, we can easily turn them into painful reminders of constraints, fear, and uncertainty. I think that’s why Jesus had the conversation he had next.

A different kind of echo

After their meal on the shore, Jesus turns to Peter and asks him, “Do you love me?” “Do you love me?” “Do you love me?”

Can you feel Peter’s pain as he answers? He no doubt flashed back to his three denials of Jesus, and now he’s getting three questions from Jesus. It’s like he’s being raked over the coals of the fire in front of them.

Reminders, however, are tied to the past. If you look closely here, there’s no past-tense in Jesus’ responses to Peter between questions. No sense of, “If you love me, then why did you fail me?” in the direction of the conversation.

Rather, it’s a mix of present-tense and future-tense.

“Tend my lambs.” “Shepherd my sheep.” “Tend my sheep.”

These echoes aren’t pointing at the reminders of what isn’t. They’re pointing at redemption for going forward. Not echoes of who we aren’t…echoes of who our Savior is.

And now in the midst of unfamiliar circumstances, life is echoing some very familiar shouts: constraints, fear, uncertainty. Meanwhile, he beckons you and I to spend some time with him hearing his echo: not one of reminding…but one of redemption.

Tonight from 6-7pm, I invite you to a prayer time, hosted by members of our prayer team at West Bowles. Send us an email atcare@westbowles.com for the login information. Consider it a virtual version of that time by the fire on the shore that Peter and the disciples had with Jesus.

I’m reminded by John 21 that for all the ‘reminder echoes’ life yells at us, there’s a redemptive echo we hear by getting still in the presence of Jesus. Whether you have time for the whole hour or for five minutes, join us this evening.

I bet you’ll hear an echo.


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Passion for the Word

An informal, low key study, this Men’s group meets every Thursday from 6:00-7:00 a.m. This is an interactive Bible study and allows a great deal of participation from the men who attend. EMAIL US for info on how to join our Zoom meeting.


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West Bowles Youth

The West Bowles Youth Groups provide youth with an opportunity to learn, serve, and have fellowship with one another. This is a great time to get to know lots of other youth and have a fun time. EMAIL US for info on how to join our Zoom meetings.


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Woman to Woman

This is a book study focused on walking closer to Jesus, designed with the busy woman in mind.  EMAIL US for info on how to watch our weekly gathering.


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HomeBuilders I Class

The Home Builders 1 class at West Bowles is a place for newly married, engaged or seriously dating couples to connect with others and seek the Lord. From fellowship times, to marriage resources, to unique Bible studies, this group is designed to help you navigate the waters of this particular life stage.  EMAIL US for info on how to join our Zoom meeting.


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HomeBuilders III Class

The HomeBuilders III class at West Bowles is a place for parents of teens and young adults. We explore current issues and topics that are relevant to families in this specific life-stage. Each week unique teachings with rich content are presented allowing for interaction and discussion opportunities. EMAIL US for info on how to join our Zoom meeting.


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Homebuilders II Class

The Homebuilders II class at WBCC is a place for families or individuals with young children to come together and stay sane! Every Sunday morning we enjoy fellowship and an interactive lesson with lots of discussion. EMAIL US for info on how to join our Zoom meeting.


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