Encouragement From the Elders


Prayer and How It Can Change Our Lives

Have you ever found yourself in a spiritual rut? Who hasn’t? life gets busy, church feels like one more thing on your to do list and prayer feels both cumbersome and ineffective. Beyond the fact that life itself can become overwhelming, even sapping your spirituality.

Make no mistake Satan is at war to derail our pray life because he knows the further we move from God and His Son the closer we move to him. Make no mistake  - we are in a fight for our souls.

The good news is Satan’s reign terror stops here and now. He will keep coming but he won’t have victory because prayer will keep us close to the Lord, which puts a boundary around us.

Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons God has given us, and looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, it has never been more important for God’s people to be on our knees. Knowing how to pray is not always as easy as we would like. Even the disciples felt the same confusion. They were familiar with the often-repeated prayers of the Torah. But Jesus prayed with a kind of authority and power they had never seen before. In Matthew 6 they did not say, “Teach us another prayer.” They said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

The following are things that will help us to develop a more powerful prayer life

1. Know whom you are speaking to; Prayer is a conversation with God, “Our Father who art in heaven.” God is three distinct persons in one: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

2. Thank him; God loves to see we have thankful hearts. We are so fortunate to the avenue of prayer. We need to be thankful every day.

3. God’s will; Jesus prayed “not my will, but your will be done”. We need to always allow God’s will to be done through our receiving hearts to the Holy Spirit.

4. Say what you need: In Jesus time bread was a staple, one of the most basic needs of life, and he did not hesitate to ask God to provide. We should always realize that God will provide even the most basic needs and far beyond to the big issues of life that we all have or will have at some point on this earth.

5. Ask for forgiveness: James 5:16 reminds us that if we want to have our prayer heard our hearts need to be right with God and one another. Always take time to check the health of your heart.

6. Pray the Word: When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the Wilderness (Luke 4:1-12) He was the Son of God but he did not use his divine authority. Instead he used the authority of Scriptures.

The Elders pray for you all every time we meet and in our individual prayers. We asked that we all pray for us to always allow God’s will to be done.


Preacher's Thoughts

I was so glad to hear Casey’s sermon Sunday morning as he talked about  our teens’ summer. When Casey talks you can see how much he loves our kids. And I have seen from the teens how much they love him. RELATIONSHIPS are key to the success of any group of people. Casey also talked about staff relationships. I feel so fortunate to be a part of an awesome Northwest staff. I look forward everyday to coming to the office and being welcomed by the smiling faces of such capable people. I think about numerous ministries here and how the people in those ministries work with  each other with respect to accomplish their missions. And this same kind of respect in relationships will work for success in the home or even on the job…..


As October approaches, Halloween, kids and candy are just around the corner. Our Fall Carnival is October 28 and is a mission our Life Groups have taken on. No Life Groups that night, but we will have a great night with kids!....


We will have a new theme for 2019, but let’s fill the last three months of 2018 focusing on our theme of Looking for the Good. There’s a lot of good out there if we will just make the effort to look for it…..


I look forward to seeing you Sunday.


Youth News

Youth News

           It’s difficult to believe that we’ve already reached the end of summer, but we have. And wow, what an amazing summer it has been! The NWYG has been extremely active these past 3 months, travelling all over the city (and even the country) for one activity or another, and we’ve grown closer to God and each other in the process.

We’ve had a lot of fun in this season. We’ve bowled like champs, dominated at mini-golf, and eaten our weight in snow cones on Wednesday nights. We’ve welcomed new 6th graders, grown closer with our friends from Bay Area Church, and eaten more pizza than you could imagine at our Tuesday Night Hangouts. We’ve taken over movie theaters, the beach, and even the Thee’s backyard, and we’ve had a blast doing it. Yet, for all the fun we’ve had this summer, it’s the growth in our relationship with our Lord we’re most thrilled about.

You see, summers can be times of great growth or unfortunate stagnation in our faith. We can be intentional about spending time with God, or we can spend a whole bunch of time doing nothing. However, the Youth Group has done everything we can to make sure we put God first in our summer. From growing deep during a week of camp, to serving well on a week of mission in Nashville, and at every class, lesson, and devotional in between, we’ve worked to put God first. Yes, we have a lot of fun together, and praise God for that. But it’s all for nothing if Christ isn’t at the front of our activities!

We hope to carry this mindset and momentum into the new school year. Parents, as you get back into routines and life goes back to normal, take the time to ask, “How can we put God before everything else at home?” In return, know that our youth ministry will be asking “How can we put God first in everything we do?” Together, we can lead our teens to Christ in big and bold ways. I’m so thankful for what we’ve learned this summer and for the ways we’ve grown, both with God and with each other. But the work isn’t finished yet, so let’s keep it going!

-Alia, Casey, and the NWYG


Encouragement from the Elders

One of the points in Jim’s sermon Sunday was: After all is said and done, there is usually more said than done. The lesson was from Acts 1:1-2 where we learn that Jesus not only taught, but he also put action to His words. That is our desire for Northwest – that we put wings on our words and legs on our prayers. We also saw in Acts 10:38 that Jesus went around doing good.

Next Sunday in the order of worship there will be a handout listing more than fifty ways Northwest folks went about doing good in the last year. This is not an exhaustive list, but it has enough in it to help everyone see what kind of ways the church is putting our teaching into action. Maybe you will find an area in which you would really like to be involved. We want every member at Northwest to feel valuable, involved and making a real difference in the world. God bless each one of you as you serve others and in so doing serve our Lord.

NORTHWEST DOING GOOD 2017  - Acts 10:38

Thousands given for good causes in addition to regular contribution

Feeding needy in our community weekly from pantry

Providing volunteers for local pantry downtown

Distributing meals for Thanksgiving

Helping needy families at Christmas

Special efforts to invite visitors for Christmas and Easter

Giving away water and bags with candy and info cards at Halloween

Faith City collection of backpacks and supplies for students in fall

Faith City make and send cards of encouragement each Wednesday

Faith City Milk and Cookies Night, paint and spread kindness rocks

Faith City Valentine Heart Attacks, invite cards in Halloween candy, Thanksgiving food drive

Speaking at local schools (One member helped start a Bible club on campus.)

Cleaning yards and making repairs for those needing help

Temple Maintenance Team – monthly checking of blood pressure, flu shots, etc.

Corresponding with persecuted Christians overseas

Supporting Dino Roussos in Greece and in other countries in that area

Supporting individuals in mission efforts in other countries

Youth group mission efforts

Camp scholarships for youth

Donations to Free Clinic for homeless

Free tutoring for students

Helping Northwest members with life sustaining needs

Providing temporary shelter

Providing budget and financial counseling

Jobs for Life training

No Debt No Sweat class

Parenting class

Free classes to the public by a trained professional on emotional needs

Free martial arts class to community

Weekly meetings for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health)

Meetings for Healthy Start (Parents as Teachers)

Helping with disaster relief at Northwest

Helping with disaster relief in United States

Helping with disaster relief in other countries

Spanish church meets on our property

Monthly support for biannual Equip seminar in Orlando

Support Mt. Dora Children’s Home

Support Christian Family Services in Gainesville

Volunteers for Ronald McDonald House

Volunteer painting at Northwest and other locations

Care packages to college students

Visitation to shut-ins

Food prepared for sick and bereaved

Community block party

Sending cards of encouragement

Evangelism through Mules softball team with prayer after games

Lunch for visitors

Helping people move

Providing transportation to doctors

Providing transportation to Northwest

Free marital and other types of counseling

Spread the Word outreach to visitors

Assistance in planning weddings and funerals

Baby and wedding showers

Prison visitation and correspondence

Preacher's Thoughts

We miss you when you are gone.  Thanks to all who have been bringing me church bulletins from your summer adventures in travel.  Whether you are home or traveling, let’s keep in mind our mission of getting as many on the bus to heaven as possible. Remember: Wherever you go, there you are.  God can work mightily wherever you are……

Bob Samek has donated hours and hours and hours into renovating the old youth house on the corner of our lot. Thanks to Bob and  his helpers Steve Adye,  Al Fisch and Ben Rodriguez who have donated time and skill to help him improve that house…….

As I announced Sunday a search committee has been commissioned by the elders to look for two ministers to join out team here at Northwest. They will be involved in networking and would appreciate your input. The committee members are: Will Broyles, Tom Burket, Beulah Cumberbatch, Al Duren, Kevin Garner, Melissa Myers and Linda Smock. I also requested your prayers each day at 2:02 pm (from II Tim 2:2) for the success of this effort…….

I look forward to seeing you.


Preacher's Thoughts

Let’s look for some good:

Casey, Alia and the youth group had a great week at camp, but that’s just part of a full summer - much more to come!

You gave a total of $5,000 for the summer youth program - over $2,000 of it went to scholarships for camp. As a matter of fact, our giving has been super this year!  We  entered the summer without a deficit, and that has not happened in a long time. The summer is tough with so many gone, so please remember that expenses continue through vacation time. Thank you for your generosity.

June has been wedding month with two weddings here and lessons on marriage. A large number of NW couples recommitted their vows this month. Next month’s theme is Thank God for Freedom.

Our  live streaming of the Sunday worship is running without too many problems now. People are actually worshipping with us in other places via live stream. Give it a look on Facebook - Go to Northwest Church of Christ.

I look forward to seeing you


Youth News

Youth News

Summer is almost halfway over! Can you believe it? The youth group had a fantastic June, full of fun events and lessons. We had lots of fun at our weekly WAC (Wednesday After Church) events, initiated the new 6th graders, went to see the Rays play with the San Jose youth group, and had an amazing week of Camp at CFBC! We’ve already had a full summer’s worth of fun, but we have plenty more to come!

Our big event for July is our mission trip to Nashville! We’ve been planning this since before I even arrived at Northwest, so we’re excited that it’s nearly here! While we’re all sure this will be a fantastic opportunity for our teens, there are a few more things we could use from the congregation. First, please be in prayer for this trip. Our ministry wants everything we do to be initiated by God, and as such, it must be deeply rooted in prayer. We need your help for this to happen. Second, we would love if you would consider donating to a teen’s fundraising cost. Each teen is responsible for raising $400 for transportation and expenses, and many of them could use your help. In addition, we have a fundraiser dinner coming up on Wednesday, July 11th. More details will follow in the weekly order of worship and the Sunday morning announcements, but please plan on eating with us that Wednesday night. This trip is going to be a life-changing event for each of our teenagers, and we would love for every member at northwest to have some type of hand in the process.

But that’s not all we have planned for July! From hangouts to beach devos and everything in between, July is going to be quite the month. Make sure you check the NWYG Facebook page regularly for updates and details.



Encouragement from the Elders

Recently on a Sunday evening we had the opportunity to get to know our teens a little better and hear how Jesus impacts their lives through their involvement in the Youth Group. All of their comments showed how blessed we are to have this generation as part of the body at Northwest. One of the comments made was “because I’m sharpened by iron it really helps to have good supportive people around you all the time and someone who can definitely shape you and always help you”.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

When Christians are spending time with each other, there is incredible sharpening that occurs. We typically take on the actions and language of our environment. When you are surrounding yourself with other people who love Christ, there is a likelihood that you will become a better and stronger Christian. Showing love for one another, prayer for one another, singing and studying with one another, encouragement for one another and spending quality time together – we have opportunities available to sharpen each other. Sunday morning Bible classes, Worship Service, Sunday evening service, Wednesday evening classes, service projects, Life Groups and fellowship activities to name a few. We offer classes for new Christians and also have opportunities for individual Bible studies. You are invited and encouraged to connect.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

If you need more information on any of the classes or activities at Northwest, the elders and ministers are available to answer your questions

Youth News

Wow, what a fantastic few weeks it has been for myself and the youth. If we haven't met yet, my name is Casey Stringer, and I'm the new Youth Minister here at Northwest, and I'm so glad to be here. For the last month and a half, the people of Northwest have showered me with kindness (not to mention gift cards), and I feel so welcome here. All I can say to each one of you is, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Now, on to the fun stuff. It's an exciting time for our teens in the youth group! For the past few weeks, we've been diving deep in our Bible classes, studying things like pridefulness and humility, prayer, and the real story of Jonah and the big fish. We've had several events where we've had tons of fun and gotten to know each other better. And now, believe it or not, we're already gearing up for summer! That's right, summer is just around the bend, and we've got some great things planned that anyone could be involved in, regardless of whether or not you have a teen in the youth ministry.

One particular opportunity I want you to know about is a summer missions experience we'll be offering to students and chaperones. As a group, we'll be partnering with an organization called City Service Mission to take part in their ongoing work in Nashville, TN. This experience will offer teens the chance to serve God in a new context and, hopefully, gain a passion for the kingdom of God in the process. If you're interested in this opportunity, I encourage you to come to our missions interest meeting Sunday, April 8th, where we'll discuss the trip in detail. And don't worry if you've never worked with the youth before because we need chaperones of all ages and life stages! More information on the interest meeting will follow.

Once again, I'm so thankful to be here in St. Petersburg and at Northwest. I look forward to getting to know you each individually. Make it a great month, and happy Easter! 


Preacher's Thoughts

It is so important to study God’s Word—a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).  That’s why we have Bible classes on Sundays, Wednesdays and even Thursdays.  But one on one personal studies are also very important. If you or a friend would like a study, let me know. We’ll do it at a time that is convenient.  We have studies for Christians and for those who are not yet Christians. Let me hear from you (345-2836)…..

The biannual Equip Conference (formerly the Spiritual Growth Workshop) is coming up at the end of the month. This bulletin contains info on it, so you can make reservations. It should be a great week!....

At Northwest we have a lot of helpful resources. You can view our services on live streaming through Facebook. It is available at the time of service or anytime.  You can also hear the sermons on our website nwcoc.org. Help us spread the word so others will know about these resources…..

Remember our theme for the year -  Looking for the Good. A new series of sermons begins in April - Looking for Peace in Philippians.  Hope you keep searching for the good.  Looking forward to seeing you Sunday.

Encouragement From the Elders

“...today has been pure joy.”

In an age when love and commitment seems scarce, journalist T A Maitland writes about a couple that has persevered ‘in sickness and in health’. She writes:

Michael Joyce's memory and some of his speech have been snatched by Alzheimer's. The disease is so advanced that he forgot he was married to his wife of 38 years. But he is in love with her, and he is also an honorable man, so he proposed to her on a recent morning. She said yes.

"You don't say, 'Oh, we're already married,' " Linda Joyce, 64, told the New Zealand news site Stuff.” So, I said, 'Of course I will,' thinking he might not remember." But the next morning, Michael Joyce, 68, woke up and asked her, "So, when are we doing this?" according to Stuff. Here's how Linda invited her friends and community to their second wedding:

       “My adored hubby of 38 years suffers from Alzheimer's/Dysphasia. Two nights ago, out of the blue, with tear-filled eyes, he asked me to marry him! Michael had clearly forgotten we were already married but I absolutely went along with him and said I would be delighted to be his wife. In spite of his confused mind, he obviously knows and feels this is something he really wants to do … to Michael it will be our Wedding Ceremony and to our friends and myself, a truly precious memorable occasion.”

On their wedding morning, Linda Joyce said she wasn't sure he would remember, but he woke up and told his betrothed, "Today's the day." They  exchanged vows at a scenic lake near their home as friends looked on. "There's been a lot of sadness and a lot of frustration," Linda Joyce said. "And despite all the fogginess, today has been pure joy."

As moving as this story is, there is a bigger love story in God’s unconditional love that reaches out to all of us. Even when we are unlovable, His hands reach out for us, always ready to draw us closer. As David declared in 1 Chronicles 16:34:

   Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Te Ahua Maitland, "Love the Second Time Around," Stuff.Co.Nz (1-20-18)


Encouragement From the Elders

Let the Truth Be Told

Truth is in short supply in our world today. Did we used to value truth more? Is it only recently that lying is so prevalent that we need a Truth-O-Meter to parse out every word that our leaders say to determine if they have made factual and fully revealing statements?

Lying is not new to me. Let me illustrate. First by way of justification, before I started school know that my first dog, Mickey, was run over by a truck that he so loved to chase. My next dog was hit by a car as we waited to cross the street to fly kites in an oil field in West Texas. So, be generous when you read this. It was early in the first grade that one afternoon, I walked home the 5 blocks from school. As I approached our house, my Mom and sister came out the front door. Mom saw a blonde cocker spaniel following me that I hadn’t noticed and asked, “Whose dog is that?” Without hesitation, amazing words came out of my mouth. Glibly I lied, “That is Mike’s dog. He asked me to keep it while they are on vacation.” Vacation? Really? In the middle of the school year? Miraculously, Mom bought it! She scolded me for not asking permission, but in Mom fashion she swung into action feeding the dog and giving it a bath before it came in our house. The evening was great. The dog, whose name I invented easily if not creatively, was Cocker. Cocker and I bonded immediately. However, after I was in bed and the lights were out, remorse set in. What about Cocker’s real owner? What if Mom found out that I lied? What a miserable night! First thing in the morning, I confessed to Mom that it was all a fabrication. I was suitably punished. The consequences of lying were forever impressed on my mind.

Jesus valued truth and He said that knowing the truth would set us free. (John 8:32) Paul in Ephesians 4:25 tells us to put off falsehood and speak truthfully. In John 15 we learn that Jesus has sent us the Spirit of Truth. Why is it that people lie so easily? Is it our fallen human nature? Like Paul confesses in Romans 7, we have the desire to do what is good, but we can’t consistently carry it out.

Can we renew our commitment to always speak the truth? If Satan is the Father of Lies, we certainly want no part of lying. Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves about the truth. Let’s give ourselves no latitude to play carelessly with the truth.

The word of the day is “equivocate.” Equivocation is the art of parsing out our words and of being ambiguous - saying truthful statements while concealing the full truth of the matter. For example, do you remember the leader who said, “It depends on what the meaning of the word “Is” is”?

As God’s people, let’s be known for telling the truth on all occasions with grace and love. God knows our hearts and hears our words. He knows every exaggeration, every slant of the truth. He cannot be deceived even if our mothers and others can be. Let’s redouble the value we place on truth and model truthfulness for our families and our community. Ephesians 4:15 is a powerful verse encouraging us to always speak the truth in love. May God’s Spirit of Truth give us grace to be truthful in all we say and do.


Preacher's Thoughts

Recently in a sermon I asked the question Why are you here? Sunday a dear  sister  handed me  this answer:

 * To praise the God of heaven!

* To show my love and gratitude to Him.

* To be an active part of the living, breathing body of Christ.

* To sing to God with all my heart and soul.

* To demonstrate obedience.

* To partake of the Lord’s supper with my brothers and sisters (in remembrance of the gift).

* To remind me who’s side I’m on.

* To hear a portion of the Word.

* To give to encourage.

    That’s why!

Would that everyone examined their hearts in such a thorough fashion. Why are you going to be here Sunday?

Wow - what a Halloween! I’ve already got several reports of members who handed out NW and Faith City information with candy and had some great conversations with neighbors. There was also a lot of bottles of water and cider given out.  What a great use of that holiday!

I look forward to seeing you (and some neighbors from Halloween efforts) Sunday.


Be the Good Slide copy.jpg

Preacher's Thoughts

Be the Good Slide copy.jpg

As we enter the final third of the year we continue to focus on our theme Be the Good.  I am so thankful for how you have put that theme into practice over the past month.  I’ve seen and heard so many stories of how Northwesterners have helped others out in preparing for the storm and afterward cleaning up and helping the ones without electricity to be more comfortable.  I know a number of our members were hit hard financially by the storm, but you gave so generously in a special contribution for those hit the hardest. It reminds me of the Macedonian Christians of the first century: In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity (II Corinthians 8:2). I don’t think any of us are in extreme poverty, that same kind of spirit has been evident…….

Christian Financial Resources has partnered with us in helping us improve our property in so many ways.  They will conduct another Financial Planning Seminar on October 19, beginning at 6:30 pm. If you did not get to participate in the last one, sign up for a time when you hear it announced….

Life Groups started September 24.  The first set of lessons are on the theme Is My God Big Enough?  These four lessons will also be the topic of the sermons on Sunday mornings…..

Muleball starts its 66th season October 9.  Hope to see you there…...



Preacher's Thoughts

I hope you are spending 2017 (which is halfway gone) being the good. We sing a song God Is So Good.  So in trying to be the good, may we look to God, who IS good as our example.  And that example is best seen in His son, Jesus……

God is doing a lot of good here at Northwest.  Look around and see how many new people are here at every service and also how many Northwesterners are busy working and serving God and just basking in His grace……

We wereso sad to learn of the passing of James Casalino.  It was a great day for Northwest when he and Ruth came to be a part of the Northwest family.  He struggled with cancer for a long time but now is struggling no more.  Arrangements for his memorial service are not   definite at this time……

I’m really enjoying having Greg Hall around this summer.  We knew and loved Greg when he was in high school, but now we see what a fine young college graduate he is as he works as a youth intern.  He has taken our kids to camp this week and we look forward to hearing of successes during the week……

The 4th of July helps us again consider how fortunate we are to enjoy the privileges of freedom, especially of worshiping God without any restraints.  Not everyone has that freedom, so may we not take it for granted…..

I look forward to seeing you.


Joel's Journal


Are your prayers big enough?

We have been trying to teach our son to pray for a while.  He is just a little over 2 years old so his abilities are limited, but we want to teach him what prayer is all about.  We want him to get used to praying.

Right now he can say, “Dear God, thank you for momma, daddy, amen.”  Still working on being thankful for food, and praying in Jesus’ name.

This process of teaching him got me thinking more about how we pray and what we pray for. Right now our son is only capable of small prayers.  This makes sense because his understanding is small. His world is small.  His friend circle is small. His toys are small.  His desires are small… usually “Cheese Its.”  Complex dreams and thoughts are still well beyond his grasp.  

Unfortunately, I’m not always sure that our adult prayers are big enough.  We pray for our food.  Why?  It is a good way to pray often. It is a good way to remember to thank the God that created us and loves us.  It is a time to recognize where good things come from.  Praying at dinner is a wonderful habit, but we know that if you pray for too long the hungrier family members may be thinking, “get on with it, I want to devour this meal already!”  

I want to teach my son to pray often and to pray big. I want his prayers to be big prayers.  In order for that to happen I know my own prayers need to be bigger and deeper.

What is the biggest thing that you have prayed for lately?  Think about it for a second.  Are you concerned with the same things that God is? Are you praying for spiritual things or physical things? Are you praying for things that will happen anyway, or for things that wouldn’t happen without God’s help? Are your prayers for self, food, safe trips, and parking spots? Are your prayers for God’s kingdom, salvation, and the world grasping and accepting this incredible message of God’s grace and forgiveness?  Are you praying for Northwest to accomplish something so large that it could only be explained by God?  Bigger prayers are needed…

The 20th century Norwegian pastor Ole Hallesby likens prayer to mining as he knew it in Norway. Demolition to create mine shafts took two basic kinds of actions. There are long periods of time, he writes, "when the deep holes are being bored with great effort into the hard rock." To bore the holes deeply enough into the most strategic spots for removing the main body of rock was work that took patience, steadiness, and a great deal of skill. Once the holes were finished, however, the "shot" was inserted and connected to a fuse. "To light the fuse and fire the shot is not only easy but also very interesting … . One sees 'results.' … Shots resound, and pieces fly in every direction." He concludes that while the more painstaking work takes both skill and patient strength of character, "anyone can light a fuse." 

One of my favorite authors Tim Keller comments on this illustration:

“This helpful illustration warns us against doing only ‘fuse-lighting’ prayers, the kind that we soon drop if we do not get immediate results. If we believe both in the power of prayer and in the wisdom of God, we will have a patient prayer life of ‘hole-boring.’ Mature believers know that handling the tedium is part of what makes for effective prayers. We must avoid extremes—of either not asking God for things or of thinking we can bend God's will to ours. We must combine tenacious importunity, a ‘striving with God,’ with deep acceptance of God's wise will, whatever it is.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

- Pray Often

Matthew 7: 7-12 says: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

- Pray Big


Encouragement from the Elders

As we lament over all the world’s evil that we see regularly in the news, a quote from Albert Einstein comes to mind, The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch without doing anything.  It sounds a little like Edmund Burke’s statement, The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.  And in a speech in 1963 President Kennedy paraphrased a thought from Dante’s Inferno, The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those, who in time of moral crisis, preserve their neutrality.

But even better is a quote from the Book above all books, If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them (James 4:17).

Our theme for 2017 is Be the Good.  It is not enough just not to do evil.  It is our responsibility and privilege to do good – to be the good. This is not a time to sit on the sidelines in neutrality, but for God’s people to be the light in a very dark world and show forth the good. There is not enough darkness in the whole wide world to put out the light of God’s goodness. May we make sure we let that light shine (Matthew 5:14-16).


Preacher's Thoughts

We are so happy to have Greg Hall back with us to serve as our youth intern for the summer. Greg endeared himself to Northwest several years ago when he became a part of our youth group. This month he graduated from Harding University with a degree in Youth Ministry.  His fiancé, Amy, still has a year to go at Harding.  Our youth are in for a great time of growth this summer…..

So many graduations around us serve as evidence that summer is here.  While you and yours are away on vacation this summer remember three things: 1)  Take your Bible so you can continue to commune with God by reading and praying; 2) Please bring me bulletins from the churches you visit; and 3)  Please leave your contribution at Northwest while gone because our teaching, outreach, benevolence, missions, etc. continue in the summer as well as the rest of the year.   We try to BE THE GOOD year round.  Have a super summer!....

Thank you for all your effort in trying to make people feel home at Northwest.  We get evaluations from our first time visitors and those reports have been outstanding over the past couple of months.  Mike Halland Dan Cunningham, deacons over our welcome ministry, and their helpers have been busy from the parking lot to the classrooms to the café, etc.  Those workers in the Spread the Word ministry are also very active in welcoming guests.  And then there are the friendly Northwesterners.  Keep up the good work!....

I look forward to seeing you.


Joel's Journal


Last week Alison and I went away for a 5 day anniversary trip.  We stayed in a cabin in North Carolina that had a creek, or crick if you are actually from North Carolina, that was right across the gravel road from the cabin.  We got there and opened one of the doors and immediately could hear the peaceful sound of the creek flowing in the background.  It was incredibly restful!

How do you rest? Or do you actually rest?

In our culture we don't rest well.  It is difficult to determine all of the reasons why we don't "rest well" in our culture. It may be engrained into the fabric of American culture.  We seem to have assumptions about rest. Many assume rest is for the lazy. I can remember growing up hearing Bible verses about working hard. Verses like 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which was always quoted to me this way, "If a man doesn't work don't let him eat." This verse was written to combat lazy attitudes.  Certainly being lazy is not pleasing to God.  Yet, even from the very beginning after 6 days of creation God rested. God even established a mandatory sabbath day so that Israel would rest.

However, today it is commonplace to hurriedly walk down the corridors of our workplace and get asked "how is it going?"  We say, "busy." Why do we say this?  Sometimes it is because it is true, at other times it is because busyness is valued. We see an acquaintance we haven't seen in a while, and they might greet with a question like "you staying busy?"  We feel obliged to say yes. Many of us wouldn't imagine saying "no" to that question because somehow we think that being busy, working hard, being productive is tied to our worth as a human.  

There is a new study from researchers at Harvard that proves that Americans increasingly perceive busy and overworked people as having high status. In one experiment, a hundred participants were asked to read a fictional letter from a "friend" named Daniel. In one version, he complained about being "crazy busy" and never having time to watch TV. In another, he talked about being relaxed and often watching sports on TV. On a scale of one to seven, participants ranked busy Daniel more than twice as high on a measure of wealth and social status as they ranked leisurely Daniel. The researchers concluded that our new "conspicuous consumption" is no longer about scarce things like jewelry or money or cars. Instead, it's about saying, "'I am the scarce resource, and therefore I am valuable'… Displaying one's busyness at work and lack of leisure time operates as a visible signal of status in the eyes of others."

Our value shouldn't be determined by how much demand we create, or how much time we do or do not have.  Our value shouldn't be affected by how productive we are.  Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  Luckily for us our beholder is God. God is willing to give everything for us.  It is time for us to stop chasing value, and realize we already have it.  It is crucial that we are productive for God, but perhaps more so that we find rest in him.

Matthew 11:28 says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  God set our value at priceless, and offers rest from the rat-race of trying to build up our worth to those around us.  Let's find rest in him, and watch amazing things happen in our relationship with Him.

- Joel


Encouragement From the Elders

Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:15

Northwest was richly blessed 35 years ago by the arrival of the     Shannon family. In April, we celebrated our Preacher and Muleskinner, Jim Shannon for 35 years of service, thirty five years of faithful service. Thirty five years of sermons with three points, mule lessons, weddings, funerals, babies, baptisms and Bible classes. Supporting his brothers and sisters in good times and in times of need. We were also blessed with his wonderful wife, Barbara. Together they have demonstrated a love for God and a heart for this congregation. They have touched so many lives and lifted us up in prayer.

Jim often makes us laugh with his stories and quick wit. He is the coach for the Mules softball team, a community outreach mission. Each week on Tuesday, Jim visits members of the congregation. Jim is an encourager.

We, the Elders, are blessed to serve this church with Jim leading the flock. He always displays a Godly example for us to emulate and truly loves God. We look forward to continuing to learn from him and serve God alongside him. May God continue to bless and keep the Shannon family in His Care as they continue to serve Northwest.


I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. Ephesians 1: 16