I knew that only God could orchestrate this. Because He is such a God of redemption. And so, it was so cool to see how God was bringing her story together and how He does not waste a hurt.
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
When we serve the hungry.
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
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.
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?”
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.
Once in a while, I attend a meeting where God gives such clear direction that I am stunned and amazed.
Westside helped launch the “Christ the Victor Freedom Initiative” (CTV) last year as a church for men and women who are incarcerated in our state prisons. We now have worship services in Lansing and Topeka Correctional Facilities with a total of almost 500 in worship each week. We have been working to plant a new congregation on Wednesday evenings at Avenue of Life for those who are released from prison.
Last night, at a leadership meeting for the new church, our team was discussing the men who are recently released from prison. Each of them is being mentored by someone from our leadership team. We have been able to find housing for them in an apartment complex at the corner of 18th and State Street in Kansas City, KS, about two miles from Avenue of Life.
As we discussed each of the men we quickly realized that they were all struggling with life on the outside. Early optimism gave way to harsh reality as we realized all of the men were showing signs of drug use and on a path that would lead them back to prison.
We talked about the need these men have for more constant fellowship. We talked about the urgency of establishing NA and AA groups. We talked about the community where they live and the spiritual darkness that is so real there. It wasn’t long into this discussion that someone suggested we consider moving our new church plant from Avenue of Life to the apartment complex where these men live. We realized we needed to be more aggressive in our efforts to disciples these men and establish a base for the gospel in the community where they live.
So last night the leadership team of Christ the Victor decided to take the church to the neighborhood.
We agreed to rent an apartment in the same complex to host Bible studies, NA and AA groups. At least once a week we will host a meal for the entire complex out of this apartment and at all times we will prayerfully look for ways to share Jesus with this community. Our hope is that we will not only effectively disciple the men in our congregation, but we also believe we can create an outpost for the Kingdom in the community.
Our hope is that we will not only effectively disciple the men in our congregation, but we also believe we can create an outpost for the Kingdom in the community.
This morning I was talking on the phone with Troy, the pastor of CTV. As we were celebrating this new move we acknowledged the profound need for a prayer covering. We invite YOU to pray for this new congregation. As we work to build an outpost for the gospel in this apartment complex we realize there is an enemy who will work against us. Pray for the spiritual and physical protection of our men and their leaders. Pray for the neighborhood to be transformed by the gospel!
Christ the Victor Freedom Initiative's vision:
To create an intentional Christ-centered community that values everyone's sacred worth, understanding what we have done and yet affirming what we can still be, united together through shared spiritual disciplines.
There’s an old apocryphal story from Spain that tells of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read:
Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.
On Saturday, dozens of Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
In Jesus, we meet our one true, loving Father, who not only forgives us, but runs to us, with arms wide open. There’s nothing we can do to make Him loves us more. There’s nothing we can do to make Him love us less. His forgiveness of us is complete and eternal, thanks to the finished work of Jesus at Calvary.
Yet, the forgiven often find themselves unsure or unable to forgive others. We’ve received this immeasurable wealth of forgiveness, but find it hard to spare a dime of it on someone else who has hurt or offended us.
Sometimes, we aren’t even aware that we are harboring unforgiveness.
Five years ago, I was on a five-day sabbatical that I spent in silence at a monastery. The first two nights, I didn’t sleep well. I was restless, tossing and turning. Nightmares plagued me. I was exhausted by day three.
That afternoon, I had finished praying the Sext, the midafternoon office, with the monks. As I was making my way back to my cabin, my thoughts drifted toward an individual, who had been very significant in my life for many years. This is a person I saw almost daily and loved dearly. As their face came to mind, a torrent of anger suddenly burst up out of me, along with a string of words that I won’t print here. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. The whole thing felt so primal and almost involuntary, like vomiting a bad meal that gave you food poisoning.
In the aftermath, as the wave of rage passed, I was ashamed that I had said the F word, cursing someone I loved. In that moment of shame, the Spirit made it clear to me. Over the years, there were some habitual behaviors in this person’s life that had deeply wounded me. I had excused the behavior. The hurt I had buried deep in the basement of my soul, hidden behind a false wall. The combination of the three days of silence and prayer mixed with the physical exhaustion had caused that wall to crumble. In that moment, the years of hurt I had buried and all the unforgiveness I had harbored came pouring out.
Right then I knew I needed to say the F-word: Forgive.
Over the next hours, into the evening, through prayer and journaling, I revisited those wounds and wept. By God’s grace, I was able to pass on what had been given to me in limitless measure: Forgiveness.
I literally felt 100lbs lighter. I slept like a baby that night. My soul was free.
But the work of forgiveness had only begun. Over the coming months, I found myself needing to forgive that person again, as they continued in the toxic behavior. But because I was forgiving immediately, it cleared up my perspective to see I needed to change how I was relating to this person. My relationship with that person changed because forgiving empowered me to lovingly and directly address the behavior. Furthermore, instead of surrendering to a false martyrdom that turned me into a welcome mat for the inappropriate behavior, I began to erect healthy boundaries. Eventually, because the person wasn’t willing to change, I phased out of that relationship.
It was one the most life-giving moves Jesus ever led me through.
The next five weeks, we’re inviting everyone to experience the freedom that only the forgiveness can bring. We’ll address the myths about what forgiveness is that keep us from forgiving. Myths like, “Forgive and forget.” What!? How do you forget childhood abuse, a devastating divorce, or a rape? Trying to forget is not forgiveness, that’s insanity. We’ll take a clear look at what forgiveness is and what it is not. Furthermore, we’ll dig into the deep soul work that makes forgiveness of any wound possible.
With forgiveness comes freedom. Each week of this series builds upon the other, like a Master Class on Forgiveness, so make sure to be a part of every weekend. It’s time to say, “I forgive myself. I forgive you. I am forgiven!”
As a mom of 3 littles under 4 I was looking for a place to connect and belong. Motherhood can be both fulfilling and isolating, sometimes at the same time. We were new to the area and I was desperate for a community of moms where I could share my fears and frustrations, compare sleepless nights and potty training stories and build friendships that would follow me (and my kids) through the next decade.
We had been attending Westside for several months, but I had no idea they had a moms group. My plan had been to join a local MOPS group, but the one closest to me was full. I was pretty devastated that my ideal moms group wasn't going to be a reality, so I did what any mom would do. I took my kids to CFA and ate my feelings.
God has a way of showing up when we least expect him. I was sitting in CFA eating my breakfast and another mom and I strike up a conversation. In the past this might have been something I would have tried to avoid, but we immediately connected because both our kids were playing together and starting preschool that week. Somewhere during the conversation church came up and we discovered we both attended Westside. She asked me if I knew about the Moms group and proceeded to tell me about it and how to find it on the website, which was important. This mom didn't attend the mom group because of work, but I'm so thankful she listened to God and engaged me that morning. I immediately went home looked up the group and sign up to attend a meeting. I was hooked after that initial meeting. It was what I needed and desired.
Moments like that show how God is moving in this ministry. It's moms inviting friends and strangers to our play dates or out to coffee in obedience to God's prompting. It's asking for prayers over difficult situations and sharing our struggles without judgment. It's changing the culture of the group to include moms with kids of all ages and in various stages of life. It's allowing women to come together with a shared purpose to learn and grow.
I have been so blessed by this group in a short amount of time. My kids have also formed relationships that without the group I don't feel they would have made. This group was there when I was at one of my lowest points. My prayer is that other moms are impacted, encouraged, and blessed by MOMS Together.
For every mom, in every stage, YOU belong.
Daughters were princesses, and daddies were charming on a very special night recently at Westside Family Church. The Royal Ball Daddy Daughter Dance brought gave dads and daughters a focused time for fun and togetherness, and emphasized the importance of this precious father-daughter relationship.
Westside Family Church, in partnership with KC Street Hope and Exodus Cry put on this celebration to support fatherhood and introduce the dads to the Epic Project—a new program that protects vulnerable young women from exploitation.
Daughters in their most beautiful dresses enjoyed dancing, photos in the pumpkin carriage, refreshments, corsages, and a fun time with their dads. At the dance, dads demonstrated their deep dedication by attempting the limbo-rock and showing off their best air-guitar moves.
A wonderful time was had by all, daughters were cherished, and dads supported a great cause.
I've been a parent for ten years now and I have to say its much harder than I thought it would be. I remember all the books and videos and college classes on child development and none of them have really prepared me for this current reality - the parenting journey.
The truth is everyone goes through different phases of life. As a parent, it’s so important to understand this as it relates to your child and the different phases they will go through, while also thinking and parenting with the end in mind. We don't need to be overwhelmed by the realization that before the blink of an eye our kids will be off to college, starting a career, getting married—instead, we can and should be proactive about what we teach them now and how it will shape their future.
A Phase is defined as a time frame in a kid’s life where we can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future. Every phase has its own significant relationships, present realities, and distinctive opportunities.
Here are five ideas that can help as we parent through each phase, with the end in mind and as the parent God intended us to be.
1. Fight for the Heart of your son or daughter.
Keep the main thing the main thing.
"I no longer want well-behaved kids. That’s not the end goal for me. I want Christ-worshipers who know how to love and repent. Who run to Him when they fail. Only God can make this happen in their hearts—I can’t force it. But because this is the goal, I don’t sweat the small stuff as much anymore."
- When Kids Won't Bow to Your Idol, by Jennifer Phillips
2. Create a Rhythm in your home that leverages routine times to influence your kids each week:
* when you get up
* when you lie down
* when you walk along the road
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
3. Predict and Redefine how you parent at every phase.
Anticipate what is coming before it gets here and learn to redefine your role as a parent.
4. Be Proactive instead of reactive and have a strategy when it comes to your child’s development:
5. Ask other people to be a part of your child’s life journey.
Widen the Circle: Connect your kids to other caring adults who will treat them like they are made in the IMAGE of GOD.
The point is… It’s just a PHASE. So don’t miss it.
"Our responsibility is not to do it all and to perform with perfection but to be available and diligent in our personal spiritual growth and to be willing to invest in the spiritual growth of our children. God will do the rest, sometime through us and sometime in spite of us."
-Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, by George Barna
Family Ministry is hosting a parenting seminar on Wednesdays, September 20-October 11 that covers these 5 ideas in more depth! Join us any week you can make it.
We had so much fun at Westside Family Fest, and by the looks of it, so did you!
- A little rain didn't stop us!
- We welcomed over 600 first-time guests to WFC!
- Moms were pampered while faces were painted.
- The Brothers McClurg set the vibe with their live performances.
We can't wait to do it again next year!