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Watch this week’s Westside Kids video lessons for 2-5 year olds, K-3rd grade, or 4th-5th grade.

As our nation waits anxiously for the results of the election, pastor Steve encourages us to find hope and peace in God’s promises.

At the time of this post, the election is still still not over, and it is hard to know when it actually will be completed.

I just wanted to do a quick post here to encourage the church, to encourage Westside church, to encourage my friends. There’s just a lot of anxiety right now. I’ve found my stress level has increased significantly over these last couple of days. I’m going back and forth between CNN and Fox News all day long, just always in the background. And and it’s probably a little too much. And so I’m ready to kind of tap out for a bit. But I want to come back to a message that I’ve been kind of sharing over these last several months leading up to the election. It would be so easy to get caught up in all of this. And so a couple of Psalms have come to my mind over these last couple of days that I want to share with you. One is Psalm 75. It’s a song by Asaph. And Asaph was a worship leader during the time of King David. And when he when he wrote this song, Israel was tearing apart, it was divided. There was division among David and his children. There are questions about David’s leadership and an Asaph reminds us who God is. And so when you have a chance, I want you to just take a minute today and read Psalm 75.

He talks about how God is near. He is just and fair that he’s our healer. He’s our provider. He is. Nobody else can claim the kind of power, the authority and and desire or intent that he has to heal our world. Only God can heal our nation. Only God can provide for our every need. Only God can fulfill our hopes. And and I’ve been astonished how easy it is for me and for others to put our hope in a political figure or in a political system to do only what God can do.

Another song that I draw strength from is found in Psalm 46. I think this one is super important for us to meditate on in this moment. So I’m going to actually read this one.

It says that God is our shelter and our strength when troubles seem near, God is near and he’s ready to help. So why run and hide? No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails when the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless. Even when mountains crumble and the waters run wild. We are sure and fearless even in heavy winds and huge waves. Or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless. A pure stream flows never to be cut off, bringing joy to the city where God makes his home the sacred site where the most high chooses to live. The true God never sleeps and always resides in the city of joy. He makes it unstoppable, unshakable when he awakens at dawn. The true God has already been at work. Trouble is on the horizon for the outside nations. Not long until kingdoms will fall. But God’s voice thunders and the earth shakes. You know, the eternal, the commander of heavenly harmony surrounds us and protects us. The true God of Jacob is our shelter close to our heart. Come gaze, fix your eyes on what the eternal can do. Be still, be calm, see and understand that I am the true God. I am honored among all the nations. I am honored over all the Earth.

So it’s just a quick reminder today as you start your day, as you may take a break throughout the day to refocus our hearts toward Christ, to put our hope again today on Jesus, to turn our eyes upon him. So what I want you to do right now, I just want you to take a deep breath, let it out slowly.

Take another one. I we need we need a couple of these deep breath, let it out slow.

Think about Jesus. He’s with us. He’s for us. He hasn’t abandoned us.

He hasn’t left us to our own devices. He’s near to those who cry out to him, call out to him who put their hope in him.

There’s this old old song, it’s called “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus”. And every time I sing it or Lindsay leads it at our church, it’s like almost like nostalgia where I contemplate again that as I turn my eyes upon him, as we look intently on his wonderful face, the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

Love you all. Keep your eyes on Jesus today, this rest of this week, the rest of this month, all the way through the end of the year. He is our source of hope and our source of strength. Love you guys. Can’t wait to see you again and hope you guys have a great day.

As the lead Pastor of Westside Church, along with our leadership team, I would like to respond to some of the frequently asked questions regarding the current restrictions on large gatherings which directly affect churches across our state and the nation.

Q. Why are we allowing the government to dictate how we worship?
Simple answer: we are not. Our primary concern is the health of every individual in our congregation and in our community. As a large church, we have almost 2,000 people in our building every Sunday. To ensure we keep our congregation safe, we have chosen to not gather on Sundays.

Q. I’m not worried about the virus. Can’t you leave it up to individuals if they want to attend or not?
Eventually, that will be exactly what happens. Once we decide to begin gathering in our Sunday space, people will have the choice to continue meeting online or in person.

Q. Why are we shutting down the church building now, and not every year during flu season?
Until there is a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, as there is for influenza, it doesn’t make sense to put our people at any more risk than necessary.

Q. I can go to the grocery store, why can’t I go to church?
Soon we will be able to gather in homes and coffee shops as the church. Most Christians think of “going to church” as Sunday mornings in a designated “sacred” space. We know the church is anywhere two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus. It’s time for the church to return to her roots of meeting both in the temple and in homes. We’ve met for far too long just in the temple and very little in homes. This will be an opportunity for the church to reframe what it means by “going to church.”

Q. Isn’t this a form of government persecuting the church?
Studying the persecution of the church throughout history there is one primary common denominator: Jesus. Whenever governments tried to stop people from worshiping Jesus, being baptized, making a confession of faith and so forth it was always about denying Christ. Right now, this is only about gathering together. It is not about denying our faith. If that ever happens we will be the first to non-violently oppose that type of persecution.

Q. When will we be able to have church in-person again?
We are evaluating this question every week. When we do gather again it will be in small groups first, probably for several weeks, before we gather on Sunday.

For further reading, we recommend this article from Ed Stetzer. Stetzer is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and serves as a dean at Wheaton College

We are excited about this opportunity to pray with brothers and sisters all around Central Oregon. 50 Days of Prayer is an initiative led by a group of prayer warriors from various churches, encouraging the body of Christ to pray during the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost. Their website will have focused prayers, worship and inspiration to help guide the collective Church. Join us for the next 50 days as we seek God’s presence in focused prayer.            

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