KidsGiG 2019 | Generosity Story


Your generosity fuels all of Westside's efforts to make disciples, equip families, and share Christ's love, here and around the world.

Hey, we are wrapping up an amazing week that KidsGiG here. And we are so thankful for all the volunteers and all the parents who made a commitment. Your generosity has helped us reach over 2,000 kids, students, and leaders.

The chance to impact kids when they're young, and plant a seed in their life, it doesn't get any better than that because you know that God is going to do something with that as words faithful to return fruit.

I love doing all the songs with the kids and watching them learn them. And then as the week goes on, they are powered up, and they are crazy excited to worship with us.

But they're also learning how to communicate with everybody, and they're learning how to praise the Lord. And they're learning how to have fun with each other.

I love KidsGiG.

I like learning about Jesus.

I like the teachers.

I like the dancing and singing.

We are just so thankful for all of the volunteers that make this happen in order for kids to understand the love that God has for them.

I volunteer because it's always fun teaching little kids about Jesus, and just showing them how fun it can be growing in God with others.

I volunteer because I love seeing all the kids happy and then growing in their faith.

I've done KidsGiG the last two years, and I wanted to lead a group this year.

We could not pull up KidsGiG without the amount of volunteers it takes to pull this off every year.

I volunteer because they make me. I'm just kidding.

I've been working in many different places. I started in the Little Minis, but I transferred into Missions. And it's my favorite thing to do. It's just so cool teaching kids about other places, and about them being thankful for what they have.

And so without the church's generosity pouring into KidsGiG, so that we can then take KidsGiG, not just here in Kansas City, but around the world. None of this would be possible. So thank you Westside.

I want kids to grow up knowing that Jesus is fun to serve, that it's fun to dance and raise your hands, and scream out. And when the spirit moves you, you just move with it. And I want to teach kids that.

I love KidsGiG.

Westside Family Church.

You helped make these blessings possible through your faithful giving. Thank you.

Moms Together | Generosity Story

Your generosity fuels all of Westside's efforts to make disciples, equip families, and share Christ's love here and around the world. Thank you.

It is so awesome that Westside provides a space for us to meet and a warm breakfast for us to be able to gather in a safe place in order to build community with other moms.

So Moms Together is a group for moms of all ages. We meet together in community with one another, and the purpose of it is so we can build relationships with one another in order to point one another towards Christ.

Some of the stories that have come out of our group are absolutely amazing. And I just love the way that God has worked in the hearts and minds of our women.

I ended up at Moms Together through an invitation of some mom I met at Chick-fil-A. She saw me with my three kids and just sat down and started talking to me. And she invited me to come and check out what the church group had to offer.

Well I had seen the bulletins posted frequently for joining Moms Together, but it took me three years of coming here for me to get enough courage to come. I think the enemy was fighting against me. Didn't want me to have a group of moms in my corner. So I finally got the courage to step out of my comfort zone to try it out. And I only came one time before I realized I was in the right place at the right time.

Well first I just needed the friendships and the other mamas just to come along side me and walk with me through life's ups and downs with motherhood. And just also the spiritual aspect of it as well. Bringing God in and bringing Godly ladies around me to help raise my children and help me to be an encouragement to them was really just another blessing of this group.

I came one meeting and I literally felt like God was saying, "This is where I want you to be. And you're not designed to be alone. And you don't have to be alone anymore."

Because of her and her sharing, just her generosity, I was able to come and get plugged in to a moms group that I desperately needed when I had three young kids and had just moved back to the area.

Since I started coming, I really kind of opened up and shared a little bit of what I was going through outside of the group. And my leader encouraged me to get into counseling. I didn't realize that Westside offered counseling, and it was really good for me to start digging deep into the pain that I've been carrying around for so long. And then I realized that there was a lifeline for suicide survivors. And just going to that group, finally after seven years, it just made me realize that God has a plan for my life. And my destiny and purpose wasn't just to live, and exist, and hurt, the end. God couldn't use me because I was in such pain and in a dark place but now he can use me.

We weren't attending any church at that time, so because of that invitation, we started coming to Westside regularly. My kids got plugged in, and they have just grown and we've seen them come to love God a lot more. And because of that I've grown spiritually within this group and within other groups in the church. And it's just been a great experience.

I'm finally looking forward to the future for once. And to give my children a mom who isn't afraid, who isn't full of fear, who's going to use my past experiences as fuel and fire to just point my life towards God and where he wants me to go.

We're reaching moms at Chick-fil-A, at other play places, on playgrounds, where they may not see Jesus or they may not see anyone else. And so we're able to invite them in. We're able to invite them to a place where they can serve, and they can belong, and where they can grow in their faith.

I'm so grateful that I finally found a place where I belong.

You helped make these blessings possible through your faithful giving. Thank you.

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10, ...COLLEGE!!

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10, ...COLLEGE!!

Every morning, 26 of our One Life children get on a bus and travel to the nearest city to attend their junior and degree colleges. They are studying mathematics, physics, biology, zoology, and chemistry. We also have 22 children living in outside hostels or in their homes who attend college further from the New Life campus.

Baptism | Generosity Story

Well, it's been a journey. It's been a long time coming just because after a lot of struggles and trying to figure out who I am, this church really took us in.

I never really grew up very close to God.

Well, I've never been baptized other than sprinkled.

I started coming to church last year and every time I come, I just feel like I'm a part of something greater.

Before I knew Jesus, I was just lost.

Full of turmoil, honestly. I was full of turmoil. I was angry all the time. I didn't know ... I had no direction. I didn't know what was going on. Through this, I found peace and that's why I'm here today.

Wasn't coming here expected to accept Jesus into my heart, but it completely changed my life and I felt like it was important for me to get baptized and I'm speechless. I don't know what to say.

It was a really amazing experience.

What I needed was God and Jesus and I just needed him in my life.

I wanted to do it the last time it was offered, and I hesitated and got up all kinds of excuses not. For me, this time is a renewal, a beginning. A new beginning.

Now that I've accepted him into my life, I feel like I'm a changed woman forever.

I hope to set an example for my son.

It's the best decision you could ever make. It'll change your life for sure.

Getting baptized was the best experience I have ever had.

I love my church family and I wanted them to be a part of this for me.

That was probably one of the best parts about it, having everyone around there to support you.

It was time for me to take the next step and commit and you know, lead the Christian life in [inaudible 00:02:02].

I feel that if you have it in your mind, go ahead and do it. If you're feeling that tug, that's the Lord pulling on you to go ahead and solidify that faith, so I would definitely say just go for it.

Oh man, I just feel wonderful. It's the best thing I ever did. I'm so glad I did it. I didn't know how wonderful I would feel.

Gary and Victoria | Generosity Story

MS, it's a lot of times, it's not that bad. I just happen to have the kind that's paralyzing and real bad and quadriplegic so I needed Vicky more than I knew.

We dated for four years. Got married in 1971. We had our daughter in 1972 and that's when we started noticing MS symptoms.

Yeah, I never would've known, when we got married how important Vicky would be to me. It continues to be that way.

He's a really, really neat guy. I'm glad to have him.

Probably five years ago, that Vicky, she just screamed out with pain.

And I put him in bed and I went to push his bed and my back snapped and I mean, it hurt, it hurt a lot.

They ran some tests on her, did some blood work and they came back and they told Vicky that she had cancer.

I've known Gary for probably 40 years at least. We both worked down at Procter and Gamble.

I haven't seen Rudy for a few years once I went on disability and quit working.

Then after that, low and behold, we met at Westside. Didn't have a clue that we were going to the same church and it just kind of evolved from that.

I had no idea how much help that he would be giving us. He comes up on Sunday morning. Rudy's an early riser. Gets me dressed. We've got a lift, he gets me out of bed. Throws me in my wheelchair and we got to church.

So that's how it started. I just started coming up and trying to take some of the load off of Vicky because she was trying to you know, chemo kicks your butt.

So the church sent people over with food and they'd come every other night. So Rudy and Cathy were in the rotation.

And without really being in a life group and having those connections, I don't know what I would've done without them. I mean, they were just the sweetest group of people and how we all intertwined and got so close because of our illnesses and stuff like that. If I hurt, they hurt and if I needed something, they were right there to do it. And we were really blessed. We had the neatest group.

She has just laid her life down to be there for Gary. Made so many sacrifices for him and she's always upbeat about it. She has never complained. I have never heard her complain. I've been up here when she was so sick, she couldn't hold her head up and she would get up and go and take care of Gary.

Vicky had been dealing with this for 30, 40 years. So what I've done is nothing compared to what she has done and what a lot of other people have done also.

I have no idea what it would be like without Vick. Actually I don't know that I've even thought about that much.

He's my best friend. He's funny. He's an irritation. He's been a great dad to our kids. He's a really good husband to me. If I had this to do all over again, I'd do it. I can't imagine being married to anybody else. God's just always been right there taking care of us. So it's been a good life. People think I'm crazy when I say that, but it has, it really has.

Sharing My Faith | Generosity Story

My husband went to middle school with Ryan Parker, and so when Brandon and I got married, I inherited the Parker clan. And we just became really good friends. And they invited us to Westside many times.

Back when we were doing the people you wanted to pray for, and you put people on a list, Brandon and Jodi were on my list.

Oh, I'd probably been invited Brandon to come to things for quite a while, after he went through a divorce with his first wife. I'd invite him to firesides or just whatever. And then just eventually that turned into invites with Jody, also, both of them. And just being there, as she was going through times after a loss of her grandfather.

Well, last fall my grandfather had passed away and he was a very, very important person in my life. And I felt a little lost. At his funeral, they had read his testimony and I learned so much about him, about different experiences in his life that I wasn't aware of. And his faith and love for God was tremendous and he helped so many people get to that point.

So I knew he knew something wonderful and great, and I really wanted to know what else was. So we decided to start going to church, and we decided to come here to Westside at the Speedway with Ryan and Michelle. And it's been a life changer basically.

You could tell that she was trying to absorb everything, and that she was like open to what was going on.

When I started coming to Westside, my first three attendances were basically in tears. But I had that feeling that one moment that all of a sudden I had this pain in my heart, and my heart just kind of opened up and I was like, "Is that a heart attack? Or is it? But it feels really good." I didn't know what it was.

But it was just my heart opening up to God. And it was pretty much at that moment it's like, "Jesus is my savior. This is where I need to be. This is my new life."

When I heard Jodi was going to be baptized, that's really cool because that's just such an expression of where we're at in our faith when we understand that we're dying with Christ to be raised again.

So of course I had to be there, front row and cry, and while I watched her get baptized because I was so excited.

Well, without the invitation that the Parker's gave many times over, I don't believe that I would be where I'm at right now.

Yeah, so Brandon's daughter came to the women's conference Saturday, his youngest daughter.

She accepted Jesus and she decided to be baptized. You know, the invitation from the Parker's extended to us, and then now it has extended to our daughter.

It is definitely so a God thing. And there's always these times in life where you feel like the Holy Spirit's telling you, "Hey, tell this person this or ask this person this."

I was very lost after my grandfather's death. And so that invitation was right there within reach. And it made it very simple for me to find a church. I love them and adore them. And thank you. Thank you.

When you're faithful in those things that God tells you to do, and then when he allows you the opportunity to have a front row seat to watch it come to fruition, wow.

Westside Cares | Generosity Story

I first heard about Stephen Ministry from my mom. I just was curious. What is that, what are you doing? I was fascinated. And then I heard that the church here at Westside was going to be training some people, and I couldn't sign up fast enough, that just sounded like exactly what I wanted to do.

Well, a lot of times I'll get all into a room, and they're surprised. They're moved by the fact that the church has someone to come and visit with them and pray for them.

LifeLines are groups of individuals that gather together to talk about similar experiences they may have had. They're very easy to join, you just find one that speaks to you and your life experience. There's ones around grief, divorce care, addiction issues, sexual abuse issues. I had some experiences in my life that I had gone through alone, and then later on in life, when I came to be a believer in Christ and became active with the church, I realized there was a much better way. And I wish I had had that when I was going through it, and so I joined in and became a leader.

Pastors can't do it all. So we come alongside someone who's hurting, who may have had a death in the family, who may be caring for an elderly person. It can be just a difficult time in their life. They just need someone to talk to.

So we prayed for this woman, we anointed her with oil. She was very anxious, couldn't stop talking, she hadn't slept for for quite a long time. And I had talked to her about a week later, after we had done all of this, and she said she was doing better. And then several months later I saw her at one of the family baptisms out by the pond, and I noticed it was her, and I didn't even hardly recognize it. The transformation was just unbelievable. So that was really, really neat to see.

After God put it on my heart to become involved, I simply started talking to some of the staff here at Westside, and it's amazing that they were able to provide for us, not only a curriculum, but the materials, but the place to meet, and put it out online for advertising, all at no cost so that people could find the groups when they need them. And it's invaluable, it's a valuable resource.

My husband was diagnosed with... He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014, in September, and he was gone in August of 2015. And I found myself, after the 15 weeks of training, all the books I'd read, all the training I'd had, the caring I'd done for other people. It's different when it's you. But when you're walking that walk, you know the signs of grief, you know what's coming next, but when it's you. So I reached out and I got my own Stephen Minister.

Well, it always helps me to bring the Holy Spirit to the surface, and not just for me to bring my spirit to the surface, but hopefully my spirit interceding with their spirit will be brought to the surface also.

Not only is it amazing to be among non-judgmental people that are based in Christian beliefs and talk about real life experiences that you have in common, but if you put God's word and his love in the middle of that also, it's magical, and that is not found any other place.

I'm not just a Stephen Minister. I was asked to help lead the Stephen Ministry training for the our like people, for people in the church that want to come alongside people and do that walk. I took a SHAPE test, and found out my first gift is faith, my second one is mercy, and my third is service, so it just really fit me to be a Stephen Minister, and I love it.

Yeah. I would like to thank the church for giving us the ability to visit these people, to create this ministry. I have a heart for these people. I appreciate it very much.

And for this church to do that for us is incredible. It's a program that I don't think you can put a dollar sign on.

They are a tremendous resource. You don't have to go through anything alone here, and the support and the love that you find is overwhelming.

The Least of These | Community Impact Generosity Story

Your generosity fuels all of Westside's efforts to make disciples, equip families and share Christ's love

here and around the world.

Then the king will say to those on his right.

Come you who are blessed by my father.

Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food.

I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

I was naked and you clothed me.

I was sick and you visited me.

I was in prison and you came to me.

Then the righteous will answer him saying.

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you drink?

And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you or naked and clothe you?

And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?

And then the king will answer them. Truly, I say to you as you did it to one of the least of these, my

brothers, you did it to me.

Your generous giving enables Westside to maximize our impact for the Kingdom of God throughout

Kansas City.

When we serve the hungry.

The stranger.

The sick.

The prisoner.

The most vulnerable among us, we serve Jesus.

I got involved in the human trafficking ministry at Westside when God gave me the burden to reach the

women and the children in the Kansas City area.

I see Jesus in the transformed lives of the believers here at Lansing. The joy that they exhibit, despite

their circumstances is remarkable. It can't be anything other than the work of the Holy Spirit in their

lives.

I love how Westside partners with schools. We're able to serve so many families in our own backyard

and we give support to teachers and resources that they desperately need. When schools and churches

partner together, that's what excites me the most. Seeing Jesus work in that way in this community.

I see Jesus at Avenue of Life and how they work with the homeless population to break the cycle of

poverty. The model Avenue of Life uses in their programs has reduced homelessness in the Kansas City,

Kansas, School District 500 by 60% or more. That model is being duplicated in other cities and other

programs because of what they do here. And that makes me so proud to be a part.

We wanted to adopt when we realized that we were adopted into God's family, chosen and loved by

Him, and we wanted to provide that for kids in a practical way. I love how easy Westside makes it to see

and then get involved in the foster and adoption care ministry.

Where do you see Jesus?

Where do you see Jesus?

Where do you see Jesus?

You helped make these blessings possible through your faithful giving. Thank you.

Behind every child in foster care is a social worker who works tirelessly to meet the complex needs of the children and families they serve.

Behind every child in foster care is a social worker who works tirelessly to meet the complex needs of the children and families they serve.

"I think what we are seeing is a shift, we have been caring for these kids and these families for 7 years now and the problem isn't going away. Many of us are tired of sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to care about these kids. The time to act is now, and there are dozens of ways to do it…" Jen Decker, Network 1.27 Director

Find Your Motivation

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Truth statement: I am in much better shape now than I was in my 20’s and 30’s. How did I pull this off? Simple: I found my motivation. Let me tell you the story.

When I was thirty-two, I had a bulging disc in my lower back (between L5 and S1 to be exact) from playing basketball. If you’ve never had such an injury with sciatic nerve pain screaming down your leg, well, let me tell you…it is no picnic. On the back end of surgery, my doctor told me the key to preventing this from happening again was exercise. I didn’t want to experience that again, so I began my exercise regimen in1992. I found my motivation. While I don’t particularly enjoy exercising, I always ask myself, “What’s the alternative?” The alternative is to put myself in a place where I have another back injury or worse. So, I strap on my tennies and get after it. This has worked for me for over 25 years now.

Paul was trying to pass on a similar message to his young prodigy, Timothy. He said, “physical training is of some value.” No kidding. When you exercise regularly it helps your blood pressure, your heart rate, increases your energy level and endurance, heightens your mental acumen, builds up muscle, helps control your weight, helps you sleep better, feel better, and best of all, it enables you to pick up and stay up with your grandkids. People who consistently train physically, win more. I know if I stop exercising, I am intentionally and knowingly reducing my chances of experiencing these outcomes. Each morning I say to myself, “I can either spend my entire day feeling guilty I didn’t exercise or I can get it done in 30 minutes first thing in the morning, check it off my list and walk through my day guilt free.”

Paul said physical training is of “some value.” A better translation would be, “value for a little while.” A disciplined regiment of exercise improves the quality of your life and often the duration of your life on earth. But it pales in comparison to eternity. That’s why Paul follows this admonition up with an even greater one – “but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  Spiritual training not only improves the quality of our lives now, but carries on with us into eternity.

 Paul said to the folks in Philippi, “whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). Anybody want to experience peace? Then practice your faith. God tells us when we are still, we will know that he is God (Psalm 46:10). Knowing God might have its benefits, you think?

The list of assets from practicing our faith is massive:

·      We have joy in spite of our circumstances (John 15:9-11)

·      We make better decisions (James 1:5)

·      We are better people to be around (Galatians 5:16-23)

·      We’ll live in the center of God’s will (Romans 12:1-2)

·      We will be more successful (Joshua 1:8)

And the list goes on…

Spiritual discipline is like prayer. Bible study, offering my time and engaging in community can sometimes be like strapping on a pair of tennis shoes and taking off on a 5K run in the cold. We often want to take a pass for sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips watching a show on Netflix. I get it – I love potato chips (salt and vinegar are my favorite) and I love Netflix (particularly if it has at least five seasons to watch). To find my motivation, I ask the same question –  

“So what is the alternative?”

Who Cut in on You?

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7

Paul loved to use the metaphor of running a race to describe the journey of the Christian life.
In his letter to the believers in Jesus who were living in the city of Galatia, he told them they were running a good race. That meant they were making progress, growing, on track, pointed in the right direction, winning.

Then he asked them, “Who cut in on you?” When a runner intentionally cuts in on you, they’re trying to take over your lane, slow you down, throw you off track or even cause you to fall. Back in chapter three verse one, Paul posed the same question in a different way. He asked, “Who has bewitched you?” Putting the two questions together, we might say that a person is “running off at the mouth” telling lies about Christ and the Christian way of life, and you are believing it. They’re “casting a spell” over you. When you take the bait, it throws you off track in pursuing the good race that leads to freedom and spiritual prosperity.

For the Galatians, it was the Judaizers. These were early Jewish Christians who were opposing Paul by persuading Gentile believers that they needed to follow the laws of the Old Testament, including being circumcised, in order to truly be a Christian. It’s really hard to believe that we can be freed from our sin and inherit eternal life in God’s presence purely on an act of grace through faith in Christ, but it is totally true. Anything else, Paul says, is a “different gospel – which is no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7). The Galatian believers needed to reject this distraction as a lie and get back on track moving towards the goal line.

What ways are people “cutting in” on believers today who are running a good race?
Here are a few of the dominant and persuasive voices of our day that are derailing numbers of believers:

• “You have to be stupid to believe there is a God.”
• “When you die, you just die. There’s nothing else.”
• “The Bible is a book of fiction and fairy tales, not a book inspired by God.”
• “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
• “Oh, nobody believes that anymore.”

These are the modern day Judaizers who draw us off track with God:

• The boyfriend or girlfriend who isn’t interested in spiritual things.
• The college professor who makes you feel small for believing in God.
• The addiction that draws you slowly down a dark path.
• The group of friends who won’t let you belong if you don’t do what they do.
• The co-worker or “friend” who is jealous of your success and life.
• The adult who abused you and convinced you that you are unlovable.
• The voice in your own head that believes you’re out of God’s reach.

How do we prevent others from cutting in on us and derailing the good race we’re running?

1. Know what you believe and why it matters.

Here are the top ten questions every believer needs to be able to answer with deep conviction. We have clearly and concisely answered these questions in the first ten chapters of the Believe journey. The challenge is to know these ten key ideas like the back of your hand.

a. Who is God?
b. Does he care for me?
c. How do I come into a relationship with God?
d. How do I know God and his will for my life?
e. Who am I?
f. How does God accomplish his plan on earth?
g. How does God see us?
h. What about the poor and injustice?
i. What is God’s call on my life?
j. What happens next?

2. Practice your faith with the discipline of a winning athlete.

When you engage your faith and practice the disciplines that Jesus modeled, it embeds the ten key truths deep into your heart. When a belief takes up residence in the heart, not just in our heads, it will shape us into the kind of person God intended us to be from the very beginning (Romans 8:29). Here is a list of the key practices found in the Bible:

a. How to worship God
b. How to pray
c. How to study the Bible
d. How to establish priorities
e. How to live a sacrificial life
f. How to live in community
g. How to use my spiritual gift
h. How to use my time
i. How to manage my money
j. How to share my faith

This is the focus of the second ten chapters of Believe. The goal is for every believer to not only know about these key disciplines of the Christian faith, but to be functionally competent in their practice of them. Every day that you practice your faith, you’ll get stronger and wiser. So the next time someone tries to cut in on you, you won’t let them. You will have the sense about you to spot their scheme, and you’ll have the skills to overtake them and stay focused on your goal – to win the race set before you.

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3 

Discipline is just plain hard.

  • Discipline to eat right

  • Discipline to exercise

  • Discipline to floss

  • Discipline to plan ahead

  • Discipline to do our homework

  • Discipline to practice

This struggle certainly carries over into our spiritual lives. With the busyness of our day and crowdedness of our lives, it’s hard to maintain the discipline to pray, to worship, to attend a small group, to read the Bible, or to regularly offer our time to someone in need.

The writer of the book of Hebrews gives us some excellent advice on how to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. We each have our own race to run that is different from everyone else. Where do we find the strength to finish our race with dignity and victory?

1.     Be inspired by those who finished strong before you.

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. What does that mean? The writer is referring to the list of people he just mentioned in the previous chapter. People like Moses, Abraham, Rahab and Joseph. Each person had a different race marked out for them. Their journeys were filled with extreme difficulties. And yet, each one finished strong and have gone down in history as people who accomplished great things.

The writer gives us an action step: Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

Weights: A winning runner wouldn’t carry a backpack full of rocks. As a matter of fact, runners that win races strip themselves of every weight possible, wearing the lightest clothing, the lightest shoes.

Entanglements: A winning runner would never run with his or her shoes untied. He wouldn’t run with a group of people that would trip him up.

Make a list of things that weigh you down or entangle you in your spiritual race. It could be a variety of things – a relationship, a location, the wrong influence, a wrong goal, an addiction, a bad attitude or negative thinking. Once you identify it, get rid of it. This will lighten your load and make the race much more doable.

2.     Fix your eyes on Jesus

Jesus is the supreme example for us to follow. The race set before him was truly great and yet it included his crucifixion. How did he make it? He saw the finish line – sitting on the right hand of his Father, exalted, knowing he had made a way for all people to come back into a relationship with God. While he was experiencing his most intense pain and disappointment, he went to the finish line in his mind and it gave him the strength to endure the struggle now.

Someone once said, “The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinate to the strength of their purpose.”

When you struggle to apply discipline to your physical fitness journey, close your eyes and think of the finish line. Think of being at your ideal weight, having more energy, feeling good emotionally and physically, having clothes that fit better, taking a hike up a mountain to see a breathtaking view without losing your breath.

When you struggle to apply discipline to your spiritual fitness journey, close your eyes and think of the finish line. Think of the exhilaration of living out your God-given purpose, of experiencing the blessings of God, of impacting so many people along the way, of knowing you lived a life that was pleasing to God. The saints of the Old Testament and Jesus himself will tell you from their own experience, this will set you apart and give you the boost of discipline you need to see it through.

AdobeStock_48485019.jpeg

Run to Win

Beginning in January, Westside Family Church will begin a new series centered around the 10 Key Practices found in the Bible that will equip us to win at life. I have written this blog to encourage and inspire you to fully engage with us on this journey.

RUNTOWIN.png

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25

When I was in my third year of college, I decided to sign up for our small Bible Colleges racquetball tournament. There were three flights – A, B and C. The A flight was for the best players. I believed I had a strong chance to win the A flight, but I was going to sign up for the C flight for two reasons: 1) While I am an excellent athlete with insane hand-eye coordination, the truth is I’ve never played a game of racquetball in my life. I did play a little tennis; how hard can it be? 2) I really, really like winning and I would most definitely dominate in the C flight. My plan, win the C flight in my junior year and then win the A flight my senior year, going out as the reigning champ (to all the young people reading this blog, it’s important to set goals…yes it is).

(to all the young people reading this blog, it’s important to set goals…yes it is).

The first thing I did was go shopping. You must dress for success. Stepping onto the court looking like a pro intimidates your opponent. I purchased a navy-blue pair of shorts with the Spalding brand stitched in white. I purchased a white colored shirt with the Spalding brand stitched in navy blue. I added two white wrist bands and a white head band. I doubted that in the C flight I would even break a sweat, but I was going for the look. To finish things off, I bought a powder blue racquet. Didn’t want to be all “matchy, matchy” with the navy-blue outfit.

The day came for the tournament. I hate to brag, but I looked good. My first opponent turned out to have on a pair of dirty white tennis shoes, loose fitting black shorts and a raggedy t-shirt that was torn at the bottom, exposing his oversized belly. Before I went into the court, I turned to Rozanne and said, “I won’t be long.”

The game was best out of three.

AdobeStock_180581763.jpeg

The first match, he won 21-3. That meant I had to win the next two games, or I would be eliminated in the first round…in the C flight. I had to come up with a different strategy. Since I was in better shape than my opponent, I decided to try harder, move faster. As this guy just stood in the middle of the court, I ran all over the court like a chicken with its head cut off. Within a few minutes the second game was over. I lost 21-5. Eliminated in the first round  in the C flight. With bruised ego in tow, I walked out of the court hyperventilating, leaned against the wall, and slid down to the ground. Not knowing what to say, Rozanne patted me on the head and we went home.

Why did I lose the game? It’s simple. My opponent actually knew how to play racquetball.
He practiced,
he learned the techniques,
he was disciplined.
I on the other hand only looked good.

The same is true in the Christian life. We can’t just come in our Sunday best to church once a week and expect to win at life. Paul says in the verse above, we need to go into “strict training.”  We call these Spiritual Practices or Spiritual Disciplines. This is the full focus of Westside Family Church beginning on January 6 in the new year. Our staff team wants to take on the role as your personal spiritual trainer to equip you to live the Christian life with success. Here are just a couple of our training sessions:

·      How do I honor God in the way he deserves?

·      How do I grow by communicating with God?

·      How do I study God’s Word?

·      How do I keep my focus on Jesus amidst distractions?

Does training work? Let’s fast forward several years after my miserable racquetball debut. I eventually picked up the racquet again and really learned how to play. Result? I won a bunch of tournaments…while still looking good, I might add!

RUNTOWINWORDS.png

6 Things to Give Your Children for Christmas