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Pray: To open your time together.

Read: Philippians 2:1-8

Consider: Some thoughts for your group

Although we use a lot of individual language when we talk about being a Christian, phrases such as “my personal faith” or having Jesus “in my heart”, the truth is that there is no context for a faith in Jesus outside of relationship with Him AND others. When we enter our faith journey, we join a family of God that will influence and shape our spiritual lives forever.

The relationships are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, most of us can point to a few key relationships that have been the source of growth and depth in our faith – mentors, family members, faithful friends. On the other hand, perhaps the deepest wounds come from the relationships in our faith community. There is no way around the complexity of relationships and yet God clearly calls us to lean into our love for one another, just as He has loved us.

There can be a temptation to react to broken relationships by engaging in fight or flight responses. When hurt we may want to run away or attack those that hurt us. But Jesus points us to a different way of being in relationship. The one that He modeled for us. As Pastor Bo reminded us on Sunday, the way of Jesus is Kindness, Wisdom, Sacrificial Love, Humility, and Forgiveness. We are fully loved by God and that is why we can love others fully as well.

Group Questions:

  • Up to this point we have discussed Spiritual Formation in strictly individual terms – mind, will, body, etc. How do you think about your Spiritual Formation as a community experience?
  • What are some ways you have been spiritually formed by other people? Tell your group about one or two people who have really influenced your relationship with God.
  • Who are the people you have shaped in their relationship with God? Have you ever prayed for God to show you one or two people to pour into for a season of life? If not, what would keep you from doing that now?

Staying Curious:

For reasons we will never understand, God uses broken people like you and me to shape the world around us. Community is God’s great strategy for spreading the good news of Jesus all over the world. Often, we can make a mess of this strategy, but God’s grace continues to move it forward. In the end, this is a work of faith. What might it look like to surrender more of your life to this work?

Closing Prayer:

Spend some time praying for one another. For those who have been hurt by their relationship in the Church or by other Jesus-followers, pray for peace and forgiveness to be present to them. For those who have wrestled with how or when to enter into deeper relationships in the church, pray for God to speak clearly to them about what He is calling them to in this season.

We’re excited about our upcoming Summer events for kids! We look forward to seeing you and your kids at some or all of these activities. We will announce more details soon, but here’s some information to put in your calendar.

Westside Kids Outside Play Day
Wednesday, July 13th, 1pm–3pm
Free event with games, water play, frozen treats and fun for kids entering grades 1-5 in the fall.

Art Camp
Tuesday, August 9th, 9am-12pm
The Westside Art Camp is a free half-day camp for kids entering grades 1-12 in the fall. An all-group gathering will start the day followed by age and stage appropriate classes for kids of all skill levels.

Westside Family Fest
Tuesday, August 16th
Westside Family Festival is an evening event to engage and include the whole family! Carnival style family fun.

Pray: To open your time together.

Read: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Consider: Some thoughts for your group

In the garden of gethsemane, Jesus was preparing himself for the cross. He knew the road ahead was going to be painful, so he went away to pray with his closest disciples. But when he came to them, they were sleeping instead of praying. Jesus said to them, “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Jesus told his disciples, and us, that the process of Spiritual Formation is as relevant to our physical bodies as it is to our soul.

Our bodies matter to God. The physical expression of our humanity is connected to our Spirit. In much of our secular culture the body is treat as a god unto itself that constantly needs satisfying. Our hunger, lust, thirst, and every other physical desire is given priority over nearly everything other part of us. But an undisciplined feeding of our physical passions is not honoring to our bodies and leads to de-formation or the breakdown of healthy living.

Conversely, the church often treats the body as evil, vile, and weak. We are taught that pleasure is wrong and should be repressed or even hated. But this extreme view is also dishonoring to the body God has made and also leads to de-formation of our soul. What God made is good and it is made to live in the right order in which it was designed.  

Our bodies are good and wonderous. Paul writes that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We revere holy temples and honor them as sacred spaces. Such is our physical body. You are a living sacred space and God has created your physical self as wonderful, beautiful, and good.

Group Questions:

  • Talk about your relationship with your physical body. How do you think about and live into the sacred space of your physical presence?
  • What are some ways you honor your body as holy? Rest? Exercise? Fasting? Enjoying a celebration feast?
  •  Paul says, “You body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6). Chew on that idea a moment. How can we honor and celebrate our bodies the way we do temples and cathedrals? What makes are bodies similar to those spiritual spaces? What makes them different?

Staying Curious:

For most people, the relationship to our bodies is complicated. Perhaps you have struggled with your body. The way it looks or the way it works (or doesn’t work). When we are young, we want our bodies to hurry up and grow. As we age our bodies breakdown, and we want them to work like they use to work. At each stage, there are things we can learn about our own soul that is revealed in the way we think about and treat our bodies. What are you learning right now?

Closing Prayer:

Spend some time praying for one another. For those who are experiencing physical hardship, pray for healing and the peace that comes with God’s presence. For those who have had a hard struggle with their bodies, pray for God’s vision of their beauty and wonder to fill their imagination about themselves. If helpful, meditate together on Psalm 139:14 – “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  

May is Foster Care Awareness Month! We are so grateful for those who sacrificially care for children and families in need. You are not just helping one child or one family, you are participating in the hope and health of our entire community.

Kindred Connections | Awareness and Opportunities
Kindred Connections walks beside families by providing mentoring relationships for parents and temporary housing for children in times of need. In partnership with local churches, volunteers build connections with vulnerable families and open their homes to children. While their children are safe, parents can address the difficult season of life. Kindred Connections keeps children safe and gives families hope. For more information and for volunteer opportunities, visit https://www.kindred-connections.org

Featured Project: Kindred Connections Family Fun Appreciation Project
Westside Church has committed to creating an over-the-top Family Fun Basket for every single Kindred Connections Family that is presently hosting a child! To be a part of this outpouring of love and support, please bring the following items to the Westside Church Office on or before May 23rd. Office hours are M-Th, 9am-2pm.

Items needed for Family Fun Baskets—feel free to get creative!

  • Books — young adult fiction, early readers, and children’s
  • Legos — aged 5-7 and 12-16
  • Learning toys — all ages
  • Lotions and body washes
  • Arts & crafts supplies
  • Family friendly DVDs
  • Board or card Games
  • Puzzles
  • Baking mix, cookie cutters, cupcake liners
  • Water bottles or travel cups
  • Tools
  • Chocolate
  • Popcorn
  • $25 family fun center gift cards
  • $25 Regal gift cards
  • $25 restaurant gift cards
  • $25 store gift cards

Every Child Central Oregon | Awareness and Opportunities
Every Child Central Oregon mobilizes community to uplift children and families impacted by foster care in Oregon. Every Child Central Oregon works in close relationship with ODHS.

Have you ever wondered what the journey of becoming a foster parent is like? Are you interested in hearing experienced foster parents share about the joys and heartbreaks of foster care in a no-pressure environment? Visit https://www.everychildoregon.org to register for an upcoming Zoom call or event that will give you the inside story and answer your questions.

Every Child Central Oregon Family Fun Night Project
Westside Church is sponsoring a Redmond Pool Swim Night in May which will serve up to 75 kids & providers. Thank You for your faithful giving that allows us to be a generous church!

ODHS Appreciation Project
We had the pleasure of sponsoring a group of ODHS workers for a night of axe throwing. The workers had a wonderful night out together, and felt cared for and appreciated. Thank you Westside Church!

Pray: To open your time together.

Read: Matthew 6: 9-13

Consider: Some thoughts for your group

What is it we want of this life? It is a question worth pondering. Each day when we get out of bed, we set a course for somewhere. We are building something each day of our lives. Most of us get through our days without necessarily giving much thought to where we are going and what we are accomplishing. Lots of life can feel more like surviving than living. Whether we recognize it or not, in our work, in our relationships, even in our presence, we are creating something in this world.

Jesus calls us to something more than simply surviving each day. Our lives are given over to a vision for this world that looks more like heaven because of the way we live. In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us an example of how to pray and maps out for us a life that – when submitted to God’s vision and will – literally brings heaven to earth.

This is a world where relationship with God our Father is central life itself. Where we don’t hold our mistakes over one another. Where we forgive freely and are forgiven freely. Where evil is kept at bay. All because this is the way God has planned it and directed us to follow suit. Do we want this kind of life? If we do, God has invited us into it with Him. On earth as it is in heaven.  

Group Questions:

  • What do you want of this life? When you get up in the morning what is the North Star that is directing your decisions for the day? Be honest with yourself and your group.
  • When you read the Lord’s prayer what stands out to you? Take your time and chew on Jesus words in Matthew 6. Have you experienced anything like what is being described in these words? Tell your group about that experience.
  • What keeps us from giving our life over to this kind of living? What are your greatest fears in following God’s will for your life as described in the Lord’s prayer?

Staying Curious:

Often, we live life on autopilot. This is a very normal experience for all humans. And yet, there is so much good around us all the time that does not come from our own doing. What does it say about the character of God that “the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous” as described in Matthew 5:45?

Closing Prayer:

Spend some time praying for one another. Take a moment to do an inventory of your own heart and repent for the places you know you are living separate from God’s will for humanity. If necessary, confess those things aloud to your group knowing you are safe to be forgiven and shown grace by God and your brothers and sisters. Pray for a resolve of submission to God’s best for you as a person and for the life you give to this world each day.

Pray: To open your time together.

Read: Romans 12:2; Isaiah 64:8; Luke 15: 11-31

Consider: Some thoughts for your group

It is important to come to terms with the idea that we are all being shaped by forces outside ourselves. Anyone who thinks they live and think independently of influence is fooling themselves. From the media we digest to our family history, we’ve all have been and are continuing to be formed.

Spiritual Formation is simply the process we decide to enter when we want Jesus to be that ultimate shaping influence. Romans teaches us not to conform to the patterns of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. When something is conformed it is passively allowing itself to be shaped by outside forces. But when something is transformed there is intention and trajectory to its path. For us to be transformed into Christlikeness we must decide to move in the direct of Jesus and be led by the Holy Spirit. Dallas Willard says the intention to be formed in our thinking means invited God’s presence into our thought life.

For our minds to be transformed to the point of renewal, we must rewire much of the way we think about God, ourselves, and the world around us. The best way to do this is to meditation on what God tells us about all these topics. But we can’t just flippantly read these words and move on. We have to do what Eugene Peterson describes as “chewing on scripture”. Like a dog with a bone, we need to sink our teeth into God’s words for us and let it form in us a new way of thinking.

Group Questions:

  • What are a few things that most shape the way you see God, yourself, and the world? How does that influence reflect or distract from what God says about these areas?
  • Isaiah 64:8 says that God is the potter, and we are the clay. But we’re not a passive lump on the table like clay. Because we are free living beings, we must decide to relent our way of thinking to be shaped as God intends or spend our life fighting against that shaping. Which is truer of your life? What are the barriers to submitting yourself to be formed by God? If you have been fighting God’s formation, ask yourself why.
  • Luke 15:11-31 gives us a picture of God’s character in His own words. Read the story outload together. What stands out most to you? What does this story tell us about God as a Father?

Staying Curious:

Many of us get rattled by the story of the prodigal son. On the one hand the father seems generous and kind. On the other it seems the father is naive and overly gracious. Some might think the second brother is self-righteous and cold-hearted. Others might think he’s justified in his anger and that the father is foolish. Wherever you fall on these thoughts, consider what this story might be stirring in you and why.

Closing Prayer:

Spend some time praying for one another. For those who have a hard history with the idea of God as a father because of their own lived experiences, pray for comfort and peace. For those who have resisted being shaped by God, pray for His presence to be near to them. For all of us, pray for our minds to be set on God as a good, patient, forgiving, and gracious Father. 

Pray: To open your time together.

Read: Proverbs 4:23; Galatians 4:19

Consider: Some thoughts for your group

Today we launch a new teaching series on Spiritual Formation. You might not be familiar with this term, Spiritual Formation, but if you have journeyed for long with Jesus, you have already experienced Spiritual Formation in some way. Scripture reading, prayer, gathering in a community of believers, walks in nature, all of these (and many more)  play a part in forming our spiritual self.

Let’s be honest… our world can be quite chaotic. Wars, droughts, politics, the latest tik tok dance trend… it’s exhausting. And if we are not careful many other things will form the way we see the world and ourselves. So, we must look to the way of Jesus continually to form us in Christlikeness.

Jesus says in John 4:14, “Those who drink of the water I will give them will never again be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” Jesus offers us a way of being that is different in this world. A way of rest, of unburdening, a way of full life and love.

Because this way of Jesus is so often at odds with the natural state of the world around us, we must commit ourselves to continual renewal in Jesus. To learn how to “be” with God before we try to “do” for God.

 This Sunday, Pastor Bo referenced the author Dallas Willard who wrote that Spiritual Formation happens when the character and way of Jesus is formed inside of us. When our whole being is oriented toward the love of God rather than toward self or public approval or success or a great work ethic, etc. Its when we orient around the love of God that everything in our life begins to become what He always intended it to become.

Group Questions:

  • When you hear the term “Spiritual Formation” what comes to mind? If you are unfamiliar with the term, take a moment and sit with it and then respond.
  • What are some practices or routines that you use to stay connected to the love of God?
  • What is the ultimate goal of following Jesus? How is this ultimate goal being accomplished in your everyday life?

Staying Curious:

In Luke 10, Jesus says that to inherit (notice it is not “earn”, but “inherit) the kingdom of God we must “Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, all your Soul, with all your Strength, and all your Mind; and love you neighbor as yourself.” Think about those different aspects of our Self – Heart, Soul, Strength, Mind. What is unique about each of these aspects in our relationship to God and our neighbors?

Closing Prayer:

Spend some time praying for one another. For those feeling disconnected from God’s love, pause for a few minutes and ask the Holy Spirit to be present to those people. Pray for encouragement and moments this week that will more deeply connect us all to Christlikeness.

No Community Group Questions this week. IT’S EASTER SUNDAY! Rejoice and be with your group and loved ones. Read the resurrection account aloud together in Mark 16: 1-8 and remind one another of the hope of Christ the Risen King!

Children are truly a gift to the world and to our community. So often they lead the way in showing us how to love without prejudice, to create without fear, and to explore without hesitation. They teach us to live in the moment, to be present with those around us, and to be curious about everything!

Children’s Day is celebrated around the world and is an important day in the Latino community. We are partnering with Iglesia Westside to honor the kids in our community and celebrate childhood. On Sunday, May 1 from 12-2pm here at Westside we will have fun activities, games, a bounce house, and prizes for kids, plus a free hot dog lunch for everyone in the family.

Please bring your friends and family to this free event as we set aside this time to love our kids and help them to feel honored and special.

Pray: To open your time together.

Read: Mark 11:1-11

Consider: Some thoughts for your group

The process of the disciples seeing Jesus for who He is comes to a climax in Mark 11. Once Peter proclaimed that Jesus is the Messiah (Mark 8) Jesus began to speak plainly with them about what He must do and how it would happen. Jesus didn’t hide the fact that He would die in this process and when Peter tried to rebuke Jesus saying this would not happen Peter earned the unique privilege of being called “Satan” by Jesus.

So, we should not be surprised that Jesus’ journey has finally led him to the gates of Jerusalem. He’s been telling his disciples this for a while now. But what should surprise us is how the people receive Him. Jesus is treated like a King! He rides, not walks, into the great city. People throw cloaks and branches on the ground before him and shout praises. “Hosanna!” “Blessed be he who come in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

Pause for a moment. Close your eyes. And imagine you are there with these people. Smell the dirt and sweat around you. Feel the sun beating down. It’s been so long since you hoped that life could be different that perhaps you stopped hoping. But now this man, Jesus, has entered your city. He is a healer. He is a provider. Thousands follow him. He speaks wisdom and is kind even to the leper. He’s come to set you free!

Jesus is celebrated and honored as a King upon His entry to Jerusalem. What did the people think they were getting in Jesus? A revolutionary? A deliverer? He is all that and more, but also so different.

Imagine now what Jesus must be feeling upon this entry. He knows what is about to happen. He knows the physical pain he must endure. But perhaps more painful than that He know that these same voices yelling “Hosanna!” today will soon be yelling “Crucify Him!”

Group Questions:

  • As you put yourself in the place of a member of the crowd watching Jesus enter Jerusalem, what do you think about Jesus? What do you feel about Jesus?
  • What must the disciples be thinking during Jesus triumphal entry? They assumed all along that Jesus would be some kind of King. Did they imagine that their dream was all coming together? How much more would this deepen the sting of disappointment later?
  • Jesus knows that the praise of the crowd will soon turn to jeers against him, but He rides into Jerusalem anyway and He doesn’t stop the cheers or rebuke the crowd for their adulation. What must Jesus be experiencing in that moment? How deep is His love for these people (and us) to know he will be betrayed, but to move toward them in love anyway?

Staying Curious:

God is mysterious. Even for the twelve disciples who spent every waking moment with Jesus for several years, they had no idea what would happen in Jerusalem. But even in the darkness that enters the story of holy week there is the hope of Easter Sunday. What is God walking you through right now that might require hope in the midst of darkness?

Closing Prayer:

Spend some time praying for one another. Disappointment with God is a real experience so make space for people who might identify with the crowd or disciples who have so much hope in this moment with Jesus, but fear being disappointed. Pray for faith to strengthen your group. Pray for grace to cover each person and peace to rest upon your group.

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